Nothing to worry about with Greg Oden, unless there is, then holy crap

So the Miami Heat came to terms with Greg Oden in a deal that means nothing or everything. The thing is Greg Oden has been in the league for five seasons, but he’s played in a grand total of 82 [one season’s worth] of games with the most recent ones coming three seasons ago.

On top of the limited play, he averaged just 22 minutes over those 82 games.

There’s some fear around the Heat signing Oden. For draftniks like me, the name alone adds a little bit of ‘oh crap’, because Oden was the can’t miss superstar center prospect. There’s still this lingering ‘star player’ association with him even though he’s never become a star and likely never will at this point.

The thing is, Greg Oden’s had microfracture surgery three times already in his NBA career. Microfracture surgery is typically more difficult to return from than an ACL and typically has a worse long term prognosis. He’s had it three times in five years. He’s not coming back with the same athleticism he once had. Just isn’t happening.

When you put it that way, it’s no surprise the Bulls didn’t chase him. Beyond the thought that there’s no way he’ll stay healthy, the odds of healthy him being particularly special aren’t so hot. Besides, Chicago had no chance to lure him over Miami. Ignore the shot of chasing a ring, Miami has the one thing Oden really wants. A big gaping hole at the center position and a team that desperately needs his skillset.

See if Oden is healthy, then he’s exactly what Miami needs. He never blossomed into an offensive force. Even at Ohio State he was fairly limited as an offensive weapon relying more on size and athleticism than skill. He wasn’t Omer Asik out there, but he wasn’t Dwight Howard on offense either.

However, he was similar to Dwight Howard on defense and throw a big, athletic defensive center on the Heat and this thing is over. In his limited NBA playing time, Oden averaged 15.3/11.9 with 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes with a PER of 19.5. Those might not be superstar type numbers, but they’re certainly star numbers even if they came in limited doses.

Can Oden recapture that after two additional microfracture surgeries on his left knee, an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee, and another surgery to fix a fractured patella on his left? That’s four knee surgeries since he last played with two of them being serious, potentially career altering ones.

The lingering ‘what if’ surrounding Greg Oden gives him an appeal that is unlikely to match what he’ll ever be able to do on a basketball court. The guy has played 82 games across five years, and the Miami Heat likely have a 105+ game schedule coming up. Maybe it all works out for Oden, if he were going to any other team, I’d even root for him.

However, it’s not terribly likely. The most likely scenario is that he gives the Heat as much impact as Eddy Curry did. The downside for the rest of the league is that with Curry, even if he returned to form, the Heat didn’t need a black hole center who couldn’t defend, rebound, or pass. If Oden returns to form, we should be scared to death.

The Heat come back as significant favorites to win again, but if they plug the defensive center hole? It goes from mission improbable to mission impossible. In that sense, it was a great risk for them to take however unlikely it was to work. Odds are that Oden won’t pan out. The rest of the NBA better hope those odds play out.


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  • Greg Oden's been on my radar for over a year. Very glad the Heat were able to sign him for the minimum. Greg Oden to Miami is the epitome of low risk, high reward. If he returns even close to his projected form from college come playoff time (a huge "if"), the three-peat will be inevitable.

  • I really felt sorry for Greg Oden and wished he would get better and be able to do some things out on the court eventually. Now I gotta wish he sucks really bad (not get hurt again, but just suck) and gets waived by mid season. What a shame.

  • Yeah not only the Bulls but the entire league better hope this guy isn't what he once was which was good but not great. If Oden can get back to being good again come playoff time and remain relatively healthy over the next couple of years, the Heat just may get their 3 and 4 peat which in my opinion will cause the NBA to lose some fans interest with the Heat continuing to win championships. Something similar happened in the 80's when the Lakers and Celtics were in the finals every year til the Pistons and for one year the Rockets were able to start to break the predictable finals streak of the Lakers and Celtics.

  • In reply to Reese1:

    I believe his second year is a player option and Miami won't have bird rights. If he's good, Oden opts out and signs for far more money with someone else.

    That said, still very unikely.

    I don't think it will hurt the NBA. The NBA did pretty darn well when Jordan was winning title after title with Jordan, and LeBron has shed his 'jerk' image that he had a few years ago.

  • The Heat are thinking Big and what are the Chicago Bulls doing? looking at 6'8" powerforwards to fill in the backup center role. Do the Bulls seem to have a fetish with these midget sized centers that are 35 years old+??? Take a chance on Cole Aldrich but according to one of the sports writers, "the bulls dont like young projects and want a proven commodity". What does that mean? a 40 year old 6'8" center that can barely move anymore? If Noah goes down, the Bulls are in big trouble unless Nazr somehow figures how to defend at a high level again and Taj Gibson struggles at that position full time because he doesn't have the strength.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    If the Bulls are having a great season and just missing a backup C to have a decent shot at the ring, then for sure they will get the backup C at the trade deadline.

    Since this would likely cost them a pick or a prospect, it won't happen unless they are close. Patience is valuable right now. If the new draft picks work out well and if they draft well next summer, they have Mirotic and the Charlotte pick on the horizon. They are close, so the worst thing to do now is to screw up the cap and maybe miss the big FA signing or trade next year.

  • In reply to Defense-Rebound13:

    I'd like to take Aldrich too, not sure if he's there to take for the minimum.

  • Let's remember Miami should be 1-2 in their LeBron James era of "greatness."

    Give Wade his due tough with three "legit" NBA Championships under his belt, in fact why don't they just put his knees, which have already retired, in the HOF right now to wait for their owner when he officially calls it quits.

    The league is so weak right now with a huge infiltration of ass kissed AAU one and done clueless wanna be tough guy drones. This new stifling, horribly artificial CBA which leaves teams excusably handcuffed. I really don't care if Miami wins again. Sure, i'd like to see them lose, but it's no sweat off my nads if they don't.

    Oden though is a 90% chance of being nothing and thus his low ass salary. He's a non-story most likely. Hopefully Indiana knocks them off next year. It sure as hell won't be the Bulls. They still have no second scorer but managed to keep over rated crips Deng and Noah. Noah has shot .411 and .437 in two of the last three playoffs.

    Derrick your chariot awaits. After you get out of your wheel chair that is. Congrats.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Overrated crips? But the Bulls wear red though.... I wasn't sure what you meant there.

  • In reply to JPesos1230:

    Short for crippleds, I think. The likelihood of the two of them both missing 10+ games is pretty good.

  • Yeah Oden doesn't have to have improved for this to be a mega signing all he needs to be is healthy enough to play 25+ minutes. If that happens then roll out the three peat rings now. That is how big a move this is if he can play. This would be shoring up their only real weakness on a basically unbeatable team. That is huge. You can say he has only played 82 games in five years but what he has been out of the league like 3 what seasons odds decent that he could be healthy by now... Or he could be Brandon Roy and play a handful of games before hanging it up. If its the former then LeBron's Grandpa and the Heat could be in for a truely special year.

  • In reply to Chad:

    Chad - I seriously doubt that a) Oden will be healthy, and b) he will be good enough to add much more than Birdman and the other centers on the Miami roster.

    Yes, he has upside, but the bar is low. I bet if you ask Greg Oden himself if he can stay healthy and play 30 minutes per night, he'd take it in a heartbeat!

    I wouldn't be surprised in Miami just plays the matchups, playing Oden against teams with throwback centers, like Indiana.

    Can you imagine Oden keeping up with Noah without getting injured somehow??? I sure can't!

  • In reply to Granby:

    You realize that Noah himself has been injured in each of the past three playoffs so to put him up as some unbreakable ironman when he is one of the most injury prone Bulls is a joke.

    Oden is a rim protector and rebounder and when he played last was flat out better than Birdman. Speaking nothing of potential but what he brought to the table last he played was good enough to make this team practically unbeatable.

    Sure it would make sense for them to baby him with a tiny regular season role in effort to ensure his health for the postseason. But I don't think you are grasping what a 10 and 11 type center with 2+ blocks a game means to a team like the Heat. because if healthy that is a likely per 36 min line. That negates a lot of second and third chance plays that Bulls have to have to hope to win and make drives tougher to finish for Rose. That would be huge.

  • I will believe that Oden is good when I see it.

    This would be lightening in a bottle. Oden has NEVER been healthy. Even in college he had the wrist injury.

    Can someone name one equivalent player who was good, missed a few years due to injury and then came back? Sam Bowie is one... he actually had a few years as a decent role player later in his career, but skill-wise, showed nothing at all like he was in his first year at Kentucky before the injury. To expect Oden to be anything beyond just a "useful" defensive specialist and remain healthy enough to play would be amazing, IMO.

    IF Oden is healthy, I see a platoon with 1-2 of the other centers. Oden provides no offense and his defense would probably be strong, but nothing like it was back in his prime. There is no way he can be an elite defender after missing the last 3 1/2 seasons and going through all those surgeries.

  • In reply to Granby:

    If Oden can play 15-20 minutes/game in the playoffs, and cause Noah to get a few less offensive rebounds, or deny Hibbert some post-ups, Oden's presence would be worth far more than the $1M he is being paid. Obviously, still a big IF, but that's what Pat Riley is looking for.

  • As Gomer Pyle used to say, surprise, surprise, surprise.

    and hopefully by the end of this year the rest of us can say, who cares, who cares, who cares.

  • I really hope things work out for the guy. I really like him and hope he can stick around the league in some way. Loved his line about how if he screws up then everyone will be mad at Labron for passing him the ball! I really can't see Miami playing him that much until he proves he can stay healthy. He won't bet more than spot minutes for probably half the season. If he stays healthy, I see him playing like Asik did in his rookie year- very little until the end of the year and playoffs when he played a major role. I think that when healthy, Oden has All-Star potential. My hope is that he stays healthy for Miami and plays well enough that someone offers him a contract next year that the Heat can't match. Grant Hill came back from all of his injuries to have a good carrier, I hope Oden can do the same. I'll be cheering for him (even if it is with the Heat) because I think he is one of the most likeable people in sports.

  • As always there's a lot of hate being thrown at Miami from Bulls fans especially with the signing of Oden. All that can be said is if Oden is healthy this year and be a good defensive big which Miami has always missed, I'm sure the jealousy will continue from bulls fans and the rest of the league. As much as I don't like it but do respect it, Miami is the place for free agents to go win a championships and until some owner in the league is smart enough or willing enough to pay big money to challenge the Heat organization, the new CBA will continue to have the Heat as favorites to win the championship every year as longas LLeBron is there.

  • I had the pleasure of watching Greg play at the United Center courtside when healthy... and that kat can take over a game.

    Scary indeed.

  • At least the HGH deliveryman can consolidate two of his routes, now.

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