The story of the comeback is a favorite in American story telling. Greg Oden is now hoping that his story will be the latest great comeback story.
Oden, the former #1 overall pick of the 2007 NBA draft, made his plans to return to the court known today. Although he has made it known that he doesn’t want to play until the 2013-14 season, several teams have inquired about obtaining Oden’s services.
The team that appears to be in front of the line is the Miami Heat.
The Heat have head their eyes on Oden since the summer of 2011 when his rookie contract with the Portland Trail Blazers expired, making him a free agent. Oden ended up re-signing with Portland to a one-year $8.9 million contract. The contract was reduced to the veteran minimum when Oden suffered knee injury that led to his third micro-fracture surgery. The Blazers waived Oden on March 15, 2012.
With Miami possibly having two roster spots available, the team has according to reports contemplated the idea of signing Oden to fill one of those spots just to monitor his rehabilitation. That would prove a costly gamble as the Heat would have a player on the roster guaranteed not to play this season. Miami has also expressed a desire to sign Oden to a multi-year contract, but the team’s current salary cap situation would make even signing him to a one-year deal a costly move with a large luxury tax coming.
If the Heat do move to sign Oden to a multi-year deal the player on the current roster that would be most affected would be Dexter Pittman. Miami drafted Pittman in the second round of the 2010 NBA draft with the thinking that he would be their center of the future. However, his development, save for his conditioning, has been slow at best. Pittman has not been able to be put into the Heat rotation on a consistent basis and has spent much of this season on the inactive list. This has caused Miami to send him down to the D-League so he can get some playing time with hopes that he can contribute this season. Pittman is in the final year of his rookie contract and if he doesn’t show enough for the Heat to retain him, the team could sign Oden to take his spot.
Miami’s interest should not be surprising. Team president Pat Riley is known for taking on player reclamation projects. The last player to fit that category for the Heat is Eddy Curry, who made the team roster last season but seldom played and was inactive during the team’s championship run.