Greg Oden to Heat: Miami Signs Former No. 1 Overall Draft Pick
UPDATE: Wednesday, Aug. 7, at 1:46 p.m. by Tom Kinslow
Heat owner Micky Arison confirmed the deal on his Twitter account:
Congrats Greg - the journey continues. Welcome to the @MiamiHEAT family!— Micky Arison (@MickyArison) August 7, 2013
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel added that Oden passed his physical earlier this week and the former Trail Blazer is excited about the opportunity to join the two-time defending champions.
Upon adding Oden, the Heat issued a quote from the center that read, "I am very excited and happy to be here. I’m thankful to the Miami Heat organization for bringing me in and I'm ready to get to work."
In a statement, Heat President Pat Riley said, "After many months of discussion, evaluations and speaking with Greg, we felt it was the perfect time for him to make his comeback and re-enter the NBA with the Miami Heat."
---End of update---
ESPN's Jeff Goodman breaks down the deal:
Greg Oden will sign with Miami Heat, source told ESPN. Two-year with player option for second year.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) August 3, 2013
Oden had been a free agent since March of last year, when the Portland Trail Blazers waived him following a string of setbacks in his recovery from a serious knee injury. The big man's last appearance in an NBA game was Dec. 5, 2009. Since then, it's been a constant cycle of recovery and setbacks for the former Ohio State star.
ESPN passes along this quote from Oden:
"When I had a conversation with Coach (Erik) Spoelstra and hearing how much he knew about the training stuff that I was already doing, it kind of made me feel like they know what's best for me," Oden said in a phone interview.
"I'm not going to sit here and say I'm 100 percent," Oden added. "I am moving (well) and I am feeling good, but I have a lot of work to do."
From Sam Amico of Fox Sports:
Several sources say Heat willing to give Greg Oden assurances other teams wouldn't. If it doesn't work, "burden is on the Heat," says one.— Sam Amico (@SamAmicoFSO) August 3, 2013
ESPN's Marc Stein provides additional details on Oden's decision:
Oden tells ESPN by phone that it was “big deciding factor” that Heat officials made it clear he “wouldn’t be needed as much” early in season— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 3, 2013
Oden adds in ESPN phone interview it's not yet clear if he'll be ready for Opening Night. Says '13-14 goal is “to finish the season healthy"— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 3, 2013
Doug Lesmerises of The Plain Dealer reported in January that Oden was aiming for a return to action after deciding to take a more cautious approach with his rehab:
Asked if he was playing at all, Oden said, "I'm just getting my knee ready so when things do happen I'll be ready to play next year.
"I'm still in the rehab process, but I'm it taking slow. I could possibly be playing at this point, but I've done that before and I got injured before, so I'd rather take everything I am doing slow. Right now I'm just doing strength stuff with my knees."
From ESPN's Brian Windhorst:
Oden signing will cost Heat $2.6M in luxury tax. They're now scheduled to pay $18.8M in tax & total payroll with tax now $101,539,013— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) August 3, 2013
Whether that timetable remains in place now that he's officially signed with a team remains to be seen, but it wouldn't be wise to rush him back after all the setbacks in recent years.
Can Oden still be an effective NBA player?
At the very least, it's an intriguing, low-risk move. Oden was averaging 11 points, nine rebounds and two blocks per game, while shooting over 60 percent from the field, the last time NBA fans saw him. Those are solid numbers for what amounted to a second-year player.
What he will be able to accomplish upon his return to the court is a mystery. The possibility of him playing starter's minutes for an extended period of time is slim, but he stands a reasonable chance of becoming an efficient role player.
Of course, everything comes down to staying healthy. Oden has been on the verge of a return to the floor multiple times, only to have another setback with his knees. Sadly, it wouldn't be surprising if it happened again.
Hopefully that's not the case, though. The big man clearly has enough raw talent to succeed at the NBA level, even if it's in a limited role. If Oden can stay healthy for an entire season, he should be able to carve out a nice niche for himself.
Only time will tell if his knees will hold up well enough for him to accomplish that.
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