SACRAMENTO — Greg Oden is huffing and puffing, but does not appear to be hurting.
Oden, traveling with the Miami Heat on their West Coast road trip, has been expanding his pregame workouts. Friday, prior to the Heat's game with Sacramento, the center spent about 20 minutes working with Heat assistant coaches Juwan Howard and Dan Craig, storming out of the paint for closeouts, and running sprints. Sweating profusely, and clearly exhausted—he held himself up by the net at several stages—he did not seem to be in any pain.
And that's what matters to Miami most.
Yet none of this progress means that we'll see Oden in a game anytime soon, let alone Saturday night when the Heat return to face the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2007, the Portland Trail Blazers. Erik Spoelstra said the Heat are still trying to increase Oden's strength in his legs, hips and core.
Oden played four minutes in the preseason, but has not played in a regular season contest since Dec. 5, 2009.
"Our discipline with that to this point has been the most important thing, and just thinking big picture with him," Spoelstra said.
Nor will we hear from Oden in the near future.
Oden, honoring the wishes of the organization, hasn't spoken to the media since training camp, and that is not expected to change when he encounters the Portland media he knows quite well.