Much Ado About Oden

Greg Oden
Greg Oden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Earlier this evening, Greg Oden answered the question most around NBA circles had been asking for months. The answer? The Miami Heat. Oden has chosen to take his talents, and creaky knees, to South Beach, spurning the likes of the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs.

Once upon a time the number one draft pick (2007), the seven foot center hasn’t taken the court in almost four seasons because of knee problems. At his peak, Oden was a skilled rebounder and basket defender that would solve the weakness most pundits point to as Miami’s achilles heel. indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert gave the Heat fits in the playoffs this past season, so a healthy Oden would go a long way to combating that disadvantage. But Oden hasn’t been at his peak for some time.

His agent, Mike Conley Sr., said Oden should be cleared to play by training camp, but the decision regarding his taking the court will rest solely with Heat head coach Erik Spolestra. Miami will more than likely tread lightly with Oden and his knees, as they have with other project big men like Dexter Pittman, Eddy Curry and, most recently, the Birdman Chris Andersen. Pittman was a bust, and Curry had nothing left, and while Andersen was a major catalyst toward this year’s championship, Oden could become the biggest difference maker from that project position.

Earlier in the offseason, Heat president Pat Riley discussed the then-possible addition of Greg Oden.  “If he’s healthy, obviously I think he would be able to help teams. He’s young enough to maybe be able to get by this, and only time will tell. Sometimes, you can go back to a half a dozen athletes that started their careers — Kurt Thomas with the broken feet, [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas. There have been a number of players that started their career missing two or three years with injuries and then all of a sudden they never had another problem again.”

Oden’s knee problems have robbed the once highly-touted prospect of too much time. The Portland Trailblazers bypassed Kevin Durant in 2007 to select Oden, not unlike bypassing Michael Jordan to select oft-injured center Sam Bowie in 1984. Oden’s career numbers are 8.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.1 minutes per game in 82 total games.

For the Heat, this deal is low-risk, high-reward. The two-year deal nets Oden the veterans’ minimum, $1 million next season, and $1.1 million the following season. Oden holds a player option for the second season. The signing brings Miami’s roster to 13 guaranteed contracts for next season, as reserve center Jarvis Varnado’s deal isn’t guaranteed for next season.  The team might still look to bring in another veteran, such as Mo Williams or Lamar Odom, or bring in second round pick James Ennis.

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NBA Finals: Miami Wins 2013 NBA Championship

Miami Heat
The Miami Heat won their 3rd NBA Championship on Thursday night. (Getty Images)

This one was for the blueprint. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh conspired to horde championships three years ago, and since then, they’ve done just that. While many a pundit opined to shatter the three-star mold, Miami’s stars rose to the occasion when called upon over the last two games of these NBA Finals, and delivered a second straight championship. LeBron James led the Heat with a 37-point, 12-rebound performance, and his jumper with 27.9 seconds remaining sealed the 95-88 victory for the Heat.

“This is what we came together for!” Dwyane Wade screamed during the jubilant post-game celebration.

“This team is amazing, and the vision that I had when I decided to come here is all coming true,” LeBron James said. “Through adversity, through everything we’ve been through, we’ve been able to persevere and to win back-to-back championships. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

After Chris Bosh and Ray Allen rescued Miami’s season from the brink of elimination in Game 6, the tension of Game 7 picked up right where the previous contest had left off. Neither team could seize control of the game, as it was tied 11 times and the lead switched hands seven times. It wasn’t until the final minute of regulation that the Heat were able to cushion their margin.

“This was a tremendous game,” Heat head coach Erik Spolestra said. “It wouldn’t end any other way.”

While the end was in question throughout, when LeBron James stole Manu Ginobili’s pass with 23.8 seconds after a great defensive hedge from Chris Bosh, the team could finally exhale. And it was James’ brilliance, both defensively and from the perimeter, that paced his team. James hit five three-pointers and consistently buried the mid-range jumpers that the San Antonio Spurs were conceding to him, all while nearly erasing Tony Parker on the other end.

“I work on my game a lot throughout the offseason,” said James. “I put a lot of work into it and to be able to come out here and have the results happen out on the floor is the ultimate. The ultimate. I’m at a loss for words.”

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