The last time that Greg Oden played in a game, on Dec. 5, 2009, LeBron James was early in his final season as a Cleveland Cavalier, Dwight Howard seemed reasonably content as a member of the Orlando Magic, Blake Griffin was still an Oklahoma Sooner and the Miami Heat had won just one championship as a franchise.
Now, two Heat championships and nearly four years later, Miami is interested in adding Oden to its roster. Team president Pat Riley has communicated regularly with Oden's agents, and coach Erik Spoelstra and VP of player personnel Chet Kammerer watched the center work out in Indianapolis earlier this week.
Why the interest in someone who has had three major microfracture knee surgeries?
Pat Riley explained in mid-July:
If he’s healthy, he’s still young. Sometimes, and I’ve made this point before, you can go back to half-a-dozen athletes who started their careers missing two or three years with injuries, and then all of a sudden, never had another problem again.
Riley mentioned one (Kurt Thomas) who started his career with the Heat, and one (Zydrunas Ilgauskas) who finished his career with Miami. Neither had Oden's talent, talent that was attractive enough to convince the Portland Trail Blazers to draft him first overall in 2009, ahead of Kevin Durant.
The Heat liked what they saw in Indianapolis, enough to continue the pursuit, and are expected to learn within the next week whether Oden will continue his career under their watch, or in San Antonio, Dallas, New Orleans, Sacramento or Atlanta.
Why would an Oden-Miami marriage make sense?
For at least five reasons.
(All quotes in this piece were collected through the course of the author's coverage of the Miami Heat for the Palm Beach Post.)