Dec 16, 2011; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trailblazers center Greg Oden (52) poses for a photo during media day at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge: "We're Keeping an Eye on Greg Oden"

“Yeah, so we’re monitoring Greg, like all the NBA teams are, but we have not attempted to sign him.  But we are monitoring him and having (conversations) with his people just to see where he’s at….I don’t think (he’d be ready to play this year).  I don’t know any of that for sure, but I would suspect that anybody that would sign him would have their eyes looking more towards his contribution in the future than now.”  -Danny Ainge to ESPN Boston

Danny Ainge hinted that the Celtics are keeping an eye on Greg Oden, but further indicated that not everyone expects him to be back this year.

The reasons to keep an eye on Oden are pretty clear cut:  he is a former No. 1 overall pick, best big man since Dwight Howard in a draft…with a fraction of the health.  Oden hasn’t played in an NBA game since December of 2009.

He did show tremendous strides when healthy in Portland. He posted 11.1 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per contest, as well as 2.3 blocks per game, in just under 24 minutes a night.  His per-36 were eye opening:  16.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks.

Oden showed beastly potential.

But many suspect Oden suffers from a form of giantism, which inhibits his less strong bones to remain healthy.  It’s certainly proven to be symptomatic, if nothing else, as micro-stress fractures would only indicate the bones are not strong enough to support the frame.

Can Oden return and become a top center?  Is that too much of a long-shot?

Not if he returns to full health.  An able bodied and presumably still somewhat athletic 7-footer has immense value in the league.  Even a slowed one is better than playing a power forward at center, as having a legit force in the paint that can change shots can greatly impact a team.

Change shots Oden did.  Even when playing with an injured hand at Ohio State, he still was a game changing defensive player, and that level of dominance may some day take stage in the NBA again.

And maybe in Celtics green.

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