Whenever Miami Heat executive Pat Riley sees a free agent he wants, he always seems to get him. We all remember a few years ago when he lured LeBron James away from the Cleveland Cavaliers and into a Miami Heat uniform, and also getting Chris Bosh from the Toronto Raptors. Last year he was able to add former Boston Celtic Ray Allen to the roster, and signed Chris Anderson during the middle of the season, which proved to be a season changing transaction.
This year, Pat Riley got his man in former Portland Trail Blazers number one overall pick Greg Oden. If all you watch is NBA basketball, and not much of college, you wouldn't know what to think about Oden besides he can't stay healthy, which is true, but Oden can play as we saw in college in his only season with Ohio State. In that season, Oden averaged 15 points a game, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. For a freshman in college those are great numbers, but they were a long 7 years ago, which in professional sports is an eternity.
Thus far in Oden's NBA career since 2007, he has only played in 82 regular season games, the exact length of just one season. We know Oden can play when he is on the court, but the problem is him just being on the court.
What if Oden can stay healthy? That if might have just been the biggest "if" in the history of ifs. If you are hoping for Oden to make it through a season without having any major injuries, I'm sorry to break it to you, but it isn't happening. It's like Andrew Bynum or the 2013 New York Yankees to stay healthy, they just can't stay healthy.
Signing Greg Oden to a big contract would be a huge mistake regardless of what team you are, but the Heat DIDN'T, their contract with Oden had zero risk, zero, with a 2 year deal worth around two million, there's no risk being taken here. He has already passed his Heat physical as of Wednesday morning and reports from insiders claim he has lost plenty of pounds (back to his college weight) and has looked good in private workouts, though nothing can replicate playing in an actual NBA game.
Miami has signed free agents like Oden in the past, as in Eddy Curry, Rashard Lewis, and Chris Andersen, the latter worked out, the first 2 didn't. Lewis is still on the team so he has time to prove himself, but Eddy Curry on the other hand was a bust. He saw very few minutes of action, and when he actually did play, it was in a meaningless situation.
We saw how well Birdman worked out in the playoffs this past season, he played a critical role off the Heat bench, and was the enforcer of the team. Will Greg Oden have a big role for the Miami Heat this next season? Or will he not be able to stay healthy, and become Eddy Curry 2.0? If Greg Oden can stay healthy, (a big if) but if he does, he will be the missing piece the Heat have been searching for, a big man down low. Chris Bosh has been playing out of position, and isn't a true center.
It's hard to imagine that a team that has won back to back NBA championships has a need, but yes they do, and if Greg Oden can stay healthy, he is that need.
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