Greg Oden still hasn’t closed the NBA chapter of his life, and when he does make his return to the league, it might be as a part of the current two-times-in-a-row NBA champions, the Miami Heat.
Oden hasn’t played a baksetball game since December 5, 2009. Since being the number one pick in the 2007 NBA draft, Oden has played a total of 82 NBA games, sitting out four entire seasons. He was released by the Blazers on March, 2012, and decided to sit out another season in order to be in full shape (as best that it can be when it comes to Oden) when he does return to the league.
The Miami Heat are already thinking about retaining their NBA title and making it a three-peat, which will truly make a mark on the history of the league, and put LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the players with them in a very special and unique group of teams and players. But it’s not only up to them and Chris Bosh; it’s about more than the big names; it’s about the role players around them playing a big part.
The Miami Heat M.O. has been playing without a center for the last three years. Joel Anthony is a center, but a short one, without any offensive ability, and in the two NBA finals won by the Heat was was relegated to a minor role, as his defense wasn’t enough to make his offensive shortcomings pay off. The Heat know that it gets harder with each season and without too much room for change, so they’re forced to look at either minimum contract players or those willing to play for the $3.183 million taxpayer mid-level exception.
Their bonus? The chance to win a ring, which is something a lot of talented veterans might be looking to do. Greg Oden can make more money for a few other teams; the Cleveland Cavaliers have also shown an interest in the former Ohio State player, but playing close to home isn’t something Oden is worried about right now. He wants to play for a team that will give him a chance, and without too much pressure, to find his way back into the NBA again.
The Heat easily go past the luxury tax next season, owing $86 million, if you include their $4 million option on Mario Chalmers (which they will pick up), and the player options for Ray Allen ($3.2 million), James Jones ($1.5 million) and Rashard Lewis ($1.4 million). While Jones and Lewis might try and see if there’s a chance they can get more playing time somewhere else, the Heat won’t be helped by their departure, at least financially, not to mention having to re-sign Chris Andersen, who’ll probably make more than he did in the few months he played this season.
Oden has a place on the Heat, even if he can’t be as good as he was during the one and a bit season he managed to stay healthy for the Blazers, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The Brandon Roy comeback attempt at Minnesota didn’t go so well, but he was thrown into the starting lineup right from the start. In Miami, it should be a much more patient process, and possibly with a much happier ending.