Despite all of the interest from “lesser” teams, Greg Oden not signing for the two NBA finalists from last season, the Miami Heat or the San Antonio Spurs is going to be very surprising.
After working out in front of Heat, Kings and Pelicans reps, Oden will work out again on Thursday for the Atlanta Hawks, who might be joining this race a little bit too late. He’s also going to have a private meeting with the Pelicans later this week in Las Vegas.
And still, despite the Pelicans being able to offer him more money than the others, taking a look at Oden’s situation and history, making his choice anything but the two contending teams and presumably best in the league would be weird.
Playing for the NBA champions and obvious favorites to win again is the biggest incentive. The big plus of playing for the Heat is that there won’t be a lot of pressure on him to succeed, because of the foundations already in place there, not to mention the team not really relying on a traditional, big center to surround their team around.
The Heat won’t be forcing Oden to play anything more than 5 minutes a night initially, and he’s more than likely to sit out entire games at first, before the team feels confident enough to start using him for more prolonged periods.
The situation and conditions are similar with the San Antonio Spurs, yet Oden might want to sit behind a big man he can learn from. After all, he has around a season and a bit of NBA experience under his belt, and playing behind Tim Duncan is surely the best school for an NBA big man to have, not to mention the development program the Spurs are famous for, probably the best in the NBA.
The Pelicans can offer money and anonymity. The Kings, Mavs and Haws? Maybe more playing time right off the bat. When you put it all together, the NBA champions or the runners-up should be Oden’s choice.