Heat center Greg Oden, who has not played in an NBA game since 2009, participated in five-on-five scrimmages during Miami's practice today. ESPN's Michael Wallace reported Saturday that Oden would likely get cleared for full practice work, and today marked the next step in Oden's arduous path back to the court.
Miami will visit the Washington Wizards tomorrow and the Brooklyn Nets Thursday in a brief preseason road trip. Oden does not expect to play in either of those two games. The former standout at Ohio State said that his next goal is to make sure he wakes up Tuesday morning and keeps the swelling in his knees down.
The fact that Oden played in full five-on-five scrimmages with the Heat should not go understated for a player who has battled a plethora of injuries over the years. It's anybody's guess as to how effective he can become, but simply having a 7-footer who can match up well physically with Roy Hibbert could provide dividends for Miami. He doesn't need to become the next David Robinson, but may be able to play situationally when the Heat face Hibbert, Dwight Howard or Marc Gasol. Oden's mere size could improve Miami's rebounding against bigger teams. It's surely encouraging that he's making progress.