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Bobcats ‘monitoring’ Greg Oden’s rehab; QCH digs in

According to Chris Broussard of ESPN.com, there are six teams that have interest in former #1 overall pick Greg Oden.

Miami and Cleveland have emerged as the reported front-runners for Oden’ services, but Broussard has also stated that San Antonio, New Orleans, Charlotte, Indiana and Dallas also have interest in signing the center.

Charlotte wouldn’t appear to be a very likely place for Oden to end up and it’s doubtful that the injury riddled 25-year old would choose the Queen City to attempt to resurrect his career. That being said, the Bobcats will be able to offer more than the league minimum salary if they so wish, which is what clubs such as Miami, San Antonio, Dallas and Indiana would only be able to offer.

Sources are reporting that Oden is expected to choose his next team ‘within the next 3-4 weeks’, although Oden would not take the floor again until the 2013-14 NBA season.

Again, it’s not likely that Oden will end up in a Bobcats (or Hornets) jersey, but because of the financial flexibility that Charlotte will have at the end of this season in comparison to other clubs , this is something worth keeping an eye on.

QCH Panel Reacts:

Spencer: So, the Bobcats will be getting $7.3 million off the books at the end of this season with Diop, $2.6 million off with Reggie Williams and potentially an extra $14.9 over the next two seasons if they elect to use the amnesty on Tyrus Thomas (seems highly probable). After the June draft when two rookies are presumably selected by the team, this puts the Bobcats at approximately $35 million in salary money for 2013-14. This is way under the salary cap, which we don’t know exactly what that will be yet. Therefore, we also have no clue what the cap floor will be either. All teams must spend at least 85% of the salary cap, or pay the players on their roster the remaining amount- coming into this current season that number was $49,337,400. Point being, the Bobcats are going to be at least $15 million under the cap floor before any trades/free agency.

All this means that Charlotte will have plenty of financial flexibility, barring taking on a big contract in a trade, and have the option to potentially take a chance on a guy like Greg Oden for what I’d guess to be about $3.5-4 million/year. That would likely be a much larger number than any other club, except maybe Cleveland, would offer. So, here’s the thing — Oden is a former #1 overall pick and his talent has never been in question. The ultimate concern, of course, will be how in tune to his rehab process the Charlotte front office is. Oden’s camp will be pushing that he’s back to as healthy as he’s ever been and there’s absolutely no reason to believe he can’t return to being the dominant center we all watched at Ohio St. in his college years. If the Bobcats don’t pull the trigger on acquiring a big contract and have a very large amount of cap space, a move like attempting to sign Oden for more than he probably deserves may make some sense. Interesting that Oden is planning on making a decision on his next team within the next 3-4 weeks, also the same timeline as the trade deadline that is approaching (Feb. 21).

Greg: I like the idea of taking a flyer on Oden, but figuring out the size and length of the contract would be tricky. You’d ideally need something that’s attractive enough to draw him to Charlotte, keeps him here for a few years if he pans out, and wouldn’t be too much of a burden if he doesn’t.

I can see the team offering something like three years, 10 million. If he regains his old form, it would be a steal. If he doesn’t, the team has the cap space to carry him and it’s only two seasons before he’s an expiring contract. The stretch provision included in the new CBA makes a contract like that even less of a risk.

As far as on the court, he’d be a great fit (if he’s close to healthy). He was an elite rebounder and defender when he played, two of Charlotte’s biggest weaknesses.

Mathew: I certainly support the idea of kicking the tires on Oden. Basically the only risk you’d be taking with Oden is health risk (which is obviously a substantial risk), as he’s proven to be at a minimum an above-average NBA big man (PER of 19.5 in 82 career games). When healthy, he was one of only a handful of true centers in the League. He was an elite rebounder and shot blocker, with a relatively developed offensive game to boot. As a small market team, in my opinion these are the type of risks that are worth taking. The downside risk is relatively limited (I would probably support a contract of 3 years and up to $5MM/year) while the upside is high (starting caliber center and possible building block). If I were in the Bobcats’ front office I would be aggressive.