Let's start with this: the Heat have next to no financial flexibility. Excluding veteran's minimum contracts, the Heat entered the offseason with nothing more to give out than a measly $3.2 million taxpayers exception.
Miami didn't have the money to go after a player of Brandan Wright's caliber, let alone a premier player such as Andrew Bynum. So for the Heat to sign anyone with a good amount of talent this offseason, such a player is going to have to possess some real question marks.
That's where Oden comes in. Chronic knee issues led to him playing just 82 games during his first five seasons in the league.
While he's reportedly looked great in workouts, no one really knows at this point if Oden is going to be able to stay healthy during his second stint in the NBA, regardless of where he chooses to sign.
So, you could say signing Oden is taking a risk.
But, given Miami can offer him at most $3.2 million, you can't say the Heat signing him is a high-risk move.
In fact, this is your classic low-risk, high-reward move.
Oden's inability to stay healthy as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers has overshadowed the fact that he was a very productive player when he was on the court.
In Oden's last active season (2009-10), he averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in just 23.9 minutes per game. Per 36 minutes, those numbers come out to be 16.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks.
Let's just say Oden put up those numbers on the 2012-13 Heat; he would have been the team's most efficient rebounder by 2.5 boards per 36 minutes, the team's most efficient shot blocker by .7 boards per 36 minutes and the Heat's most efficient scorer outside of the Big Three.
Now, we have no idea whether or not Oden can still produce at that level. But he's worth the $3.2 million price tag even for the chance he can. Because if Oden were able to replicate those numbers, he'd represent one of the best contracts in the NBA.
And there's reason to believe Oden could succeed, specifically in Miami.
Part of the reason for Oden's downfall in Portland was that he was viewed as a franchise savior. Feeling the pressure, he constantly rushed back from injuries, which led to more injury problems.
He'd be entering a completely different situation in Miami. The Heat don't need Oden; Miami just won back-to-back championships without him.
So if Oden struggles at times or can't stay on the court, he's not going to get crushed by the media or fans, because chances are Miami is still going to be doing plenty of winning.
That's what makes this particularly a good move for both parties: Oden will really be able to just focus on basketball, not what the outside is saying.
The Heat entered free agency with the desire, not the need, to get some more size. At 7'0", Oden can give them that.
The Heat, who finished last in rebounds per game this past season, could use some rebounding help; Oden can give them that. Miami could use another interior defender when they face off against stacked frontcourts such as the Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls; Oden can be that.
And he can finish at the rim? And the Heat would be paying no more than $3.2 million? And he's just 25 years old?
Yep. This is a no-brainer.
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