Oden “The Great” Brings His Talent To The Jiangsu Dragons

Greg Oden Blazers BenchThe CBA has been an ideal place for talented yet inconsistent foreign players to prove themselves again. There are many teams out there that are willing to throw big money and minutes at those who, for one reason or another, didn’t survive NBA. If it works out, some NBA team in need of talent might just sign with the player in the middle of the season after the shorter CBA regular season is over. If not, the player can still walk away with a decent salary.

Take last season’s Michael Beasley for an example. After finishing a stunning regular season (averaging 28.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.9 steals) as a Shanghai Shark, Beasley signed a 10-day contract to come back to the Heat, and eventually stayed for the rest of the season. Now it seems like Beasley’s former teammate at the Heat, Greg Oden, will follow suit, as the Jiangsu Dragons announced on Wednesday that they had signed the No.1 pick from the 2007 NBA draft.

Chinese basketball fans have nicknamed Oden “The Great”, for the dominance he had shown inside the paint on both ends of the floor during his college career, and subsequently, his first season with the Blazers. Yet since then, he has fallen from the path to superstardom due to a number of devastating knee injuries. After a long recovery, his return to the NBA as a member of the Miami Heat in 2013-2014 showed glimpses of the greatness he once possessed, but not enough to convince any NBA team to give him a contract after the season.

According to Sports Illustrated and RealGM.com, Oden tried to return for yet another time as he reportedly worked out with the Grizzles, the Hornets, and the Mavericks during this spring and the offseason. Then a few days ago, Jiangsu suddenly announced that “The Great” will bring his talent to the Middle Kingdom next season. The exact detail of his contract is unknown at the moment, but Linjie Shi, the manager for the Jiangsu Dragons, revealed that Oden’s salary this season will be higher than the salary he made with the Heat, which was 1.03 million dollars, according to Chengdu Daily. It’s not hard to see why Oden decides to sign with Jiangsu, given that they have promised him more minutes and money than he’ll possibly get in the NBA.

Together with the earlier signing of Marshon Brooks, the addition of Oden makes the Jiangsu Dragons potentially a force to be reckoned with next season. The abilities to create shots for themselves and to defend around the basket are perhaps two of the most important skill sets that foreign players can bring to the table. Brooks’ rookie season with the Nets showed that he can be a prolific scorer in the right condition, and a healthy Oden may very well satisfy the latter need. If everything works out alright, Oden will prove he can still play and possibly get picked up by an NBA team desperately in need of interior defense and rebounding when the CBA season is over.

But there is one catch. It was later revealed that the contract come with some clauses, including the rights for Jiangsu to waive Oden, if he fails to pass through physical examination and workout when he arrives in China. So it seems that Jiangsu is well aware of Oden’s injury history and are prepared  if the current plan goes south. By doing so, they have wisely minimized the potential fallout from their gamble. Many fans, however, will certainly hope that the 27-year-old center’s performances can live up to the awesomeness of his Chinese nickname.

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