Greg Oden 2009

The time for Greg Oden to make his decision is coming, and there seems to be a growing chance he has narrowed down his option to two teams, each from a different school of “thought” – the Miami Heat, the favorites from the get go, and the New Orleans Pelicans.

It seems like the Heat were the first to contact Oden, way back during last season, trying to figure out when he’s planning on coming back and if it’s going to be with them. Later on, the Spurs, Pelicans, Mavs, Hawks and Kings joined in, but the Heat, with the pedigree of two NBA titles, were always the front-runners.

The Pelicans are the more surprising candidates, but not so much when you have a deeper look. They’ve made some bold moves this offseason (Adding Tyreke Evans and Jrue Holiday) and offer more money than any of the other teams. They’re rebuilding, but also aren’t in the national media spotlight, meaning a quieter comeback attempt for Oden, not to mention getting a more sympathetic shoulder from the public, who detests the Miami Heat.

As for the Heat, they represent the easy choice at the moment. Two time NBA champions, with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade as teammates. They can’t give Oden more than a veteran’s minimum, and it’s hard to believe they’ll waste the Mid-Level exception on him with luxury tax being so important to them, but it’s not definite.

The bottom line is that the Heat might be a team that’s one of the most exposed in the NBA when it comes to media coverage, but they also offer an excellent situation for Oden to play in a winning environment, next to the best NBA player in the world, but without the pressure to play too many minutes: The Heat have a winning formula that usually doesn’t need a center in it, giving Oden little minutes at start, and no rush to play a more significant role while he’s finding himself in the league again.

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