NBA: Heat Taking a look at Greg Oden

The Miami Heat, the defending NBA Champions, is currently in first place in the Eastern Conference a half game in front of the New York Knicks. The Heat has been led as usual by the play of All-NBA LeBron James. His supporting cast of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh has done well thus far, but over the past 10 games Heat opponents have been able to expose a weakness –rebounding – on the team.

Because of that, the Heat has lost 5 of their past 8 games. In the three games in that stretch that they won, two went to overtime and one was against the worst team in the NBA the Washington Wizards.

The lack of rebounding on the Heat has led them to look for help in the frontcourt and one person they seem interested in over the long run is Greg Oden. Oden, the former 2007 No. 1 pick overall, was last drawing interest from Miami at the completion of the lockout in 2011.

However, Oden had another problem with his knees, now the equivalent of eggshells, and eventually lost another season, after doctors said he required another microsurgery last February.

The NBA rumor mill now has Oden ready to make a comeback, but not until the 2013-14 season. Sources close to Oden have said that a handful of teams have expressed interest in signing the former Portland Trailblazer to a multi-year contract before season’s end that would give him the ability to continue in his rehab until next fall  and then start training camp.

At the front of the line in the pursuit of Oden is the Miami Heat. Miami could possibly have two spots on the roster available during the season, one that Oden would slip into while he continues with his rehab. Pat Riley, the Heat president, is characterized by gambling on players when it involves a big man.

However, before Miami fans start to cheer a Riley masterpiece, there are salary cap issues that would have to be dealt with before Oden could join the James, Wade and Bosh Show.

Oden could be a gamble that would be costly even with a contract that was near the minimum. The Heat next season could be committed to nearly $90 million in payroll.

Oden and his advisors are approaching his comeback with a conservative outlook. He therefore will sit out this entire season and the summer league to have his best shot at finally starting healthy.

Regardless of what happens this season with the Heat’s rebounding problems, Oden could be a good pick up for Miami for next season. He has yet to play an entire season in the NBA, but if he is completely recovered and has the same talent he had while at Ohio State, he could be the missing piece the Heat are lacking down low to grab 10 to 12 boards per game and score a dozen points.

Riley could be ready to make the steal of the season.

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