Cavs to offer Oden a two-year contract

Akron Beacon Journal

CLEVELAND — The Cavaliers are expected to offer free-agent center Greg Oden a two-year contract with a team option for a third year after the Feb. 21 trade deadline passes, according to a league source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of negotiations.

The Cavs have about $4 million in cap space, which they are preserving now for potential trades. Teams around the league don’t want to sign Oden until after the trade deadline.

Oden has visited with the Boston Celtics and could meet again with the Cavaliers in the coming weeks, his agent said Friday.

Oden is living nearby in Columbus. His agent, Mike Conley Sr., said last week Oden has been to see the Cavaliers a couple of times already, but was evasive when pressed as to what capacity.

“Greg has been up there (to Cleveland) before and he’ll probably be up there again in an official capacity,” Conley said Friday.

The Cavs have been interested in Oden for years, believing their partnership with the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic (which holds naming rights to the team’s practice facility) could be huge for Oden’s career.

Oden has endured three microfracture surgeries on his knees — including two on his left knee. He has not played since Dec. 5, 2009, after the Portland Trail Blazers made him the top overall pick of the 2007 draft.

He played in just 82 games in five seasons with the Blazers, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds. They finally released him near the end of last season.

Conley said Oden’s spirits are “the best they’ve been in a long time. I would say since I’ve known him, but I’ve known him since he was 9.”

Conley told the Beacon Journal last week Oden is healthy and anxious to return to the court, but that won’t happen until next season.

“He’s going to make an impact on whatever team he’s on ” a big impact,” Conley said. “He’s already back in my eyes. As long as he stays healthy, he’ll get better and better. He hasn’t had a chance to improve his game of basketball because of all this. The upside on him is tremendous. He’s a young kid. He just turned 25. He’s in the prime of his life.”

Oden’s contract would take effect immediately, even though he won’t play this season. The Cavs would have him under contract for next season and hold the team option for 2014-15.