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Is Greg Oden going to make a difference in Miami? The only answer is “I don’t know.”

Aug 3, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT

greg_oden Getty Images

The last time Greg Oden stepped on an NBA court to take part in a game it was Dec. 5, 2009. That would be 1,337 days ago. Or, 191 weeks, if you prefer. And there is a good chance you will not see Oden at the start of next season either — he said he wasn’t sure if he’d be ready when the season tips off. His goal is to be healthy at the season’s end. That’s a good goal, but reality is this is a guy that has had seven knee surgeries and three microfracture surgeries by age 25.

All of which is to say, temper your expectations here.

If you think signing Oden to a two-year is a big improvement for Miami, you’re way, way out in front of reality. If you picture Oden swatting way a Derrick Rose shot at the rim in the second round of the playoffs next year, or bodying up Roy Hibbert in the conference finals, you may never see those images with your eyes.

Could he do those things? Maybe, if healthy.

Will he do those things? I don’t know.

Neither do you. Neither does Oden or Pat Riley or Nostradamus or anyone else. Nobody knows if his body will hold up.

Every report I heard out of his workout was that he moved pretty well and seems in good shape. Witnesses said he looks the part of an NBA player again. I hope he is, I want to see him on a court and to have some redemption. But we simply do not know how this is going to go down — maybe he is playing at Thanksgiving, maybe at Christmas, maybe All Star weekend. Maybe he plays 20 games and has to shut it down. The Heat have said they planned to ease him back into the rotation and that was attractive to Oden in making his decision. He felt the pressure was off him.

This was a gamble by the Heat, but a good one for the price tag — they are paying him the league minimum. If he pans out and can give them 12-15 solid minutes a night come the playoffs, it will be almost a steal. What he came into the league with as strengths — defense in the paint, rebounds — are things the Heat need. When he has played in the NBA, he’s played pretty well (PER through 82 games of 19.5). Matching up with size is clearly an issue for the Heat (if you watched the playoffs last year) and maybe Oden can help them deal with it.


But based on history, don’t put a lot of stock in it.

It is far, far too early to think of him as a difference maker. He was a good risk for a prospect big man. Nothing more.

  1. scorp16 - Aug 3, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    Oden doesn’t have to be big contributor. He doesn’t need to become an All Star. He doesn’t need to average a double double etc. etc. etc.

    I don’t think we will see Oden early and we definitely won’t see him on the second night of a back to back. The biggest pressure on Oden will be to stay healthy.

    Because when we do see him he will change the entire dynamic of this team. Spo now has every possible option at his disposal: Go Big, Go Small, Stay traditional, Space the floor, Clog the middle, Half Court sets, Transition.

    You now have a 10 deep rotation (maybe more with the way Varnado and Ennis played in D league)

    They will all get minutes.

    JJ may see some minutes because of the threat of the 3 now that Miller is gone and Lewis is a wildcard.

    You could play Oden in a Z type of role for 5 to 6 minutes to start each half and control tempo. This would remedy Miami’s biggest weakness of starting games off too slow while teams try to pound the ball inside.


    You bring him in with Allen, Andersen, and/or Battier to spell Wade and Bosh. You could have a lineup of Lebron playing the 1 with Oden, Andersen, Battier and Allen on the floor that would be playing against another team’s bench.

    This year will be about limiting minutes. Especially for Wade and Lebron. You may even see a front line of Oden, Bosh, and Andersen with Chalmers and Allen in the backcourt. That lineup by itself is probably good enough for a 3 or 4 seed.

    Spo has a lot of options

    • borderline1988 - Aug 4, 2013 at 12:58 AM

      He hasn’t been able to step on the court for 4 seasons…Think about that for a second. Four years, and he still isn’t ready. He probably hasn’t even practiced with another guy on the court in all that time, let alone play.

      Even if he starts out healthy, once he starts bodying up NBA centres, there’s no doubt he will feel some pain in those knees.

      If he plays 150 minutes this season, I’d be surprised.

      I still think the Heat need another big man,,,a guy who is at least 6″10, energetic and can rebound the ball. The Heat are very deep at the 2 – 4 positions, but paper thin at the PG and Centre positions. I’m sorry Heat fans, but Norris Cole was awful in the playoffs. Some guys just don’t pan out, and he’s one of them.

      • adamsjohn714 - Aug 4, 2013 at 3:30 AM

        Cole was actually decent in the playoffs because he shot the ball really well. However, he’s been awful his two seasons with the Heat, so they should cut him/waive him/trade him.

  2. joeyb3878 - Aug 3, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    Low risk. High reward. IF Oden can contribute during next year’s playoffs it would make the best team in basketball a lot better.

  3. trom1ram - Aug 3, 2013 at 9:22 PM

    I hope Oden I smart to not read some of the crap that are be said about him of any preexisting condition. The Heat trusted their judgment and I know Pat’s instinct would encourage the organization to think otherwise if there were something else beyond the scope. Let’s give him (Oden) chance and hope for him the best. He will be right!

  4. simzap - Aug 4, 2013 at 12:48 AM

    This reminds me of Bill Walton who was washed up because of leg problems but came back as a reserve and was able to do enough, backing up McHale and Parrish, to help win a championship. If Oden can give the Heat 10 minutes a night in the playoffs they can give him a ring.

    • oldblue125 - Aug 4, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      able to do enough? he was sixth man of the year

  5. cornbreadbbqred - Aug 6, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    Think about it. Eric Spoelstra took him to Chili’s and convinced him. Now either Oden was on crack or he got lied to and told he was having lunch with Bruno Mars!

  6. deeperinfo - Aug 6, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Yes, big difference. Oden impacts game on both ends like no other current player. His knee injuries are not the type to recur, unlike Roy who had no more cartilage.

    Greg Oden will turn out to be the biggest free agent signing of the summer.

    He will make the Heat dominant.

  7. pistolpete0903 - Aug 7, 2013 at 4:26 AM

    Seems to be a good person by all accounts…would like to see him succeed.
    On the basketball front, it seems like a low-risk signing for the Heat. He is signed specifically to go against the bigs (Hibbert, Noah and Lopez). Even if he doesn’t contribute with the points (or rebounds), he can be a big body to give decent minutes.

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