Greg Oden

Kings notes: Free-agent center Oden works out for D'Alessandro

Published: Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2C
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2013 - 11:30 am

LAS VEGAS – While Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive and members of the front office were at Team USA's minicamp practice watching DeMarcus Cousins, general manager Pete D'Alessandro was in Indianapolis looking at another center to back up Cousins.

D'Alessandro watched free agent Greg Oden, the first pick in the 2007 draft, work out for teams in his hometown. Oden met with the Kings last week in Las Vegas.

Oden, 7 feet and 285 pounds, was selected by Portland ahead of Kevin Durant. He was considered a franchise-changing center, but injuries have limited him to 82 games in his career. He sat out last season as he recovered from his third knee surgery.

The Kings see Oden as a defensive complement to Cousins who could play an important role in limited minutes.

Memphis guard Mike Conley, who played with Oden in high school and at Ohio State, said Oden has made great strides in his recovery.

"He's looking real good," said Conley, who is in Las Vegas for the Team USA minicamp. "He's been able to work out on the court a little bit. Drills and getting to see his footwork a little bit, it's a good sign."

Miami, San Antonio and New Orleans are among other teams reportedly interested in Oden.

Conley believes Oden still could have an impact in the NBA. He has averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.1 minutes per game.

"I'd love for him to get that opportunity," Conley said. "It's just not fair. It's been unlucky breaks that he's gotten. I'd love for him to be out there and show people who he really is. He's a great guy, and on the court, he can be a game changer."

Defensive approach – New Orleans coach Monty Williams, an assistant for Team USA, had Kings coach Michael Malone on his staff during the 2010-11 season, when New Orleans was the most improved defensive team in the NBA.

New Orleans allowed a league-best 8.7 fewer points per game, down from 102.7 in 2009-10, and held opponents to 45.7 percent shooting compared to 48.3 percent the previous season.

Williams said Malone could help the Kings improve defensively. Last season, Sacramento was near the bottom of most defensive categories and allowed a league-worst 105.1 points per game.

"I think he'll put a system in for the guys that if they buy in, they'll be better," Williams said. "It's a system we all learned. It's a bit of San Antonio and some other things from our background mixed in. But Mike is a really good teacher, and if the guys buy in, they're going to get better."

Follow The Bee's Jason Jones on Twitter @mr_jasonjones and read more about the team at www.sacbee.com/kings.

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