Do you remember when Joel Anthony had to replace Chris Andersen for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals? The Miami Heat do.
Coming off their second straight NBA title, the Heat are in a pretty good position right now. They've got the best team in the league and aren't going to be much worse next year.
That doesn't mean management shouldn't try to make some tweaks here and there. One such tweak could be signing Greg Oden.
ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh reported the Heat are going to track the player this offseason:
One name to keep an eye on for next season: free agent Greg Oden. Riley recently visited with Oden and his agent Mike Conley Sr. in Miami. Riley said he would explore signing the young, but injury-riddled, center.
"[Oden] is such a young player and can be such a force that you'd want to monitor him closely," Riley said. "And we will do that."
As Fox Sports Florida's Chris Tomasson reported, Oden would likely welcome a move to the Heat.
Greg Oden agent Mike Conley told FOX Sports Florida there's mutual interest between Oden & Heat. Pat Riley confirmed it from Heat end today— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) June 26, 2013
Under the right circumstances, this would be a great move for the franchise.
One of Miami's biggest problems this past season was inside play. The team eventually solved that by signing Chris Andersen. The "Birdman" did more than anybody could have expected. Unfortunately, he's going to be 35 years old next season.
Haberstroh elaborated on what Andersen's future could be with the Heat:
Signed midseason for the veteran minimum, Andersen will become an unrestricted free agent Monday. The most the Heat could offer Andersen is the taxpayer's midlevel exception of $3.2 million next season.
During the Heat's parade Monday, Andersen told the AmericanAirlines Arena audience, "Let's try to win the three-peat next year." But so far, there hasn't been any indication that he will be back. Riley reiterated that he would like to see Andersen, who became a fan favorite in South Florida, back in the fold.
Riley has said that he wants to have Andersen back, per the Heat's Twitter feed.
Riley: We love Chris Andersen and we want him back. His name is highly respected and honored in this organization. He's the real deal.— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) June 26, 2013
Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. It wouldn't be the first time an organization said it wanted to bring a player back, then failed to do so in the offseason.
If he can stay relatively healthy, Oden would arguably be a better option for the team than Andersen.
At the very least, he would bring more than Anthony has. Anthony is a disaster waiting to happen any time he's on the court. He's good defensively, but his lack of offensive skill is more than enough to make him expendable.
Health is the key issue with Oden, as he's played in only 82 games since being drafted in 2007. There are plenty of jokes to be made about how you would expect somebody who looks as old as Oden to have bad knees.
It's still too early to completely write him off, though. By joining the Heat, the big man would be entering just about the optimal situation.
In terms of the team, he couldn't do any better than Miami, and he would have a great chance of being a contributor on an NBA title-winning team. There's no shame in Oden chasing a ring.
The 25-year-old also wouldn't be asked to do too much on the court. Erik Spoelstra wouldn't be throwing him out there for 25 minutes a game, so the strain on Oden's knees would be fairly low.
Should the Heat sign Greg Oden?
With Chris Bosh already established at the 5, Oden wouldn't have to play a starting role. He would just have to come off the bench to spell Bosh, grab a couple of rebounds and make some stops on the defensive end.
On the Heat side of things, they're getting a player who had enough talent at one point to be drafted No. 1 overall. Even with all the injuries, few have questioned Oden's talent on the court. If he can stay healthy, Oden would be a force on the boards and in the paint for opposing players.
With the Big Three eating up so much of the cap, there's little wiggle room financially. Given their success, the Heat can probably give Oden a team-friendly deal. The Heat won't have to invest much up front, so if Oden does get hurt again, they're not on the hook for very much.
If the player is healthy, the team is getting a post player unlike anything they have on the team. The rewards far outweigh the risk.