With the signing of Jarvis Varnado and Josh Harrellson to 10-day contracts, the Miami Heat have once again reached the roster limit of 15 players but that won't stop nameless sources (execs, agents, who knows?) from feeding rumors to the media about players that could help the Heat.
One of those players is former #1 draft pick Greg Oden, according to Brian Windhorst and Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Oden is reportedly determined to make another comeback to the NBA as he rehabs from his third knee microfracture surgery while finishing his degree at Ohio State. The Miami Heat is one of the teams that apparently would be very eager to take a chance on the 24-year old center who has not played in three-and-a-half years and racked up 82 NBA games scattered throughout his first two seasons since being drafted ahead of Kevin Durant in 2007.
The Miami Heat are at the front of the line in pursuing Oden, two sources said, and have been keeping tabs as he recovers while also taking classes at Ohio State.
The Heat potentially could have two roster spots available this season, one of which Oden, formerly of the Portland Trail Blazers, could slide into as he continues to rehab. Team president Pat Riley is known to like gambling on long shots, especially when it comes to big men.
One concern for the Heat, though, is they already are committed to more than $80 million in salaries for next season and likely will have a final payroll coming close to $90 million in a year when the new, more harsh luxury tax kicks in. Oden potentially would be a costly gamble even on a minimum-level contract. The Heat are also currently about $14 million over the luxury-tax line for this season.
The talk of Oden joining the Heat has been reported many times before, such as this Miami Herald article from May of 2012 during the NBA Playoffs when Mike Conley Sr. made comments to Barry Jackson that Oden had expressed an interest in playing for the eventual world champions when he eventually, maybe, someday gets healthy enough to play again in the NBA...
The Heat hasn't called but "Greg has talked about Miami," Conley said. "He has interest. He's not retiring."
A more realistic option could be 23-year-old DeJaun Blair of the San Antonio Spurs, who is due to be an unrestricted free agent and has been pushed out of the rotation with the emergence of Tiago Splitter next to Tim Duncan. Couple with the recent signing of Aron Baynes, it might be the final nail in the coffin for Blair's days as a Spur.
While at first glance there doesn't seem like much to offer to the Spurs, apparently Pat Riley was very close to convincing San Antonio to hand Blair over before this season started. Here's Alex Kennedy from Hoopsworld with the info:
It's no surprise that DeJuan Blair may be moved prior to the trade deadline on February 21. The San Antonio Spurs have been shopping him for quite some time, and nearly traded him in June. In the days leading up to the 2012 NBA Draft, the Spurs spoke to a number of teams about the 23-year-old big man. They nearly sent Blair to the Miami HEAT, but the deal fell apart.
Now, San Antonio is once again shopping Blair and seeing what teams are willing to offer.
Could the Heat get back into talks with the Spurs? They could certainly use the help in the middle and Blair would thrive with consistent minutes but again, what could the Heat actually offer?