While choosing the Miami Heat being the right or wrong choice can only be decided upon in a few years, there’s no doubt Greg Oden went with the team & option that’s the most comfortable for him, which is expected of someone who hasn’t played an NBA game in almost four years.
The Pelicans were very close to signing him, but it came down to two things – the Miami Heat being the NBA champions, which means Oden had an excellent chance of competing for something; and Oden not being pressured to perform and succeed early on, given more time to find his footing.
The New Orleans Pelicans offered more money, but that wasn’t an issue for Oden after such a long time. He wanted to come back and get a chance to do it on his own terms, at his own pace. While the Pelicans aren’t nearly as covered nationally like the Heat, being a team going through a rebuilding period and probably promising Oden a bigger role than anyone else would made him feel like it’s a little bit riskier.
There’s no shame in being blinded by the lights and the star power. The Miami Heat have been able to add relatively cheap yet vital pieces over the last couple of seasons to turn them into NBA champions. When you have superstars clogging your salary cap, the least they can do for you is help convince players sign on the cheap. It’s been working quite well so far.
Oden didn’t take the popular choice, and for someone who cares about the fans’ sympathy for his comeback attempt, the Heat weren’t the obvious choice. But with staying healthy and getting a chance to be part of a winning side being the two most important factors in his decision making process, the combination offered by the Miami Heat as NBA champions and as a team that doesn’t really need him in the immediate rotation was a winner no one could compete with.