ESPN Greg Oden, the former No. 1 overall pick who hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2009, will sign a contract to play for the Miami Heat, the center told ESPN.com and Grantland.com. The deal is for a minimum of two years with a player option in the second year, sources told ESPN.com. Miami had been considered the favorite to land Oden. Heat president Pat Riley has been personally recruiting Oden since before the end of the 2012-13 regular season. And, of course, Miami is coming off winning an NBA title with a lineup that includes LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, among others. Oden said it was a “big deciding factor” that Heat officials made it clear to him that he “wouldn’t be needed as much early in the season” as he works his way back from more than three years out of the league. “When I had a conversation with Coach (Erik) Spoelstra and hearing how much he knew about the training stuff that I was already doing, it kind of made me feel like they know what’s best for me,” Oden said in a phone interview. “I’m not going to sit here and say I’m 100 percent,” Oden added. “I am moving (well) and I am feeling good, but I have a lot of work to do.” He told ESPN.com that James recruited him via text message, in addition to Spoelstra.
This was the right choice, the only choice, for former number one overall pick Greg Oden. A lot of the teams that he had worked out for would have needed him to contribute and play meaningful minutes. Not in Miami, with the Heat, any production you can give the team is just an added bonus. Oden just has to jog up the court, grab a few rebounds, play some interior defense. Maybe catch a few easy passes off of LeBron’s penetration and get a few wide open dunks. Automatically Greg Oden gets to contend for a championship, and if all things work out, the history books do not remember you as this generation’s Sam Bowie. A often injured big man, who was picked ahead of Michael Jordan on draft day, also a mistake by the Portland Trailblazers. Instead of being “that guy who got picked ahead of Durant and was always hurt” he becomes “that big man who played a key role in LeBron’s first three peat”. That’s sweet redemption.