On Friday, Greg Oden signed a 2-year minimum salary deal with the Heat, the winners of back-to-back NBA titles. But with his history of injuries and lack of playing time, this decision could unceremoniously seal Oden’s fate as a professional athlete.
Oden will be on a team with LeBron James – who can make anyone look great. He should get a number of easy scoring opportunities with James, Wade and Bosh commanding a lot of attention. The former Buckeye could be a vital part of the pick and roll game and get his fair share of dunks.
The Heat don’t need a lot of help. They need Oden to run the floor, block shots, and rebound. He just needs to be a presence that must be accounted for each time he steps on the floor.
In this situation he is a low-risk/high-reward player. If he can fill this role or possibly exceed it, Miami may 3-peat. With only a little over two million dollars invested in him, Miami can cut ties and continue searching for a big man if he proves to be ineffective.
If Oden does not do well in this situation forget the word “bust” next to his name. His career will simply cease to exist.
Let’s say he stays healthy but plays poorly. This sends a bad message around the league that he simply can’t play. If this guy can’t thrive with the best player in the game, then how does he fit on another team? Why would any organization want to eat up valuable cap space with him?
Another scenario is if he tragically suffers another major injury. This would run much deeper than teams investing in him. His psyche would be demolished. Would you want to put yourself through the emotional toll and physical pain to get back on the court if no matter what you did you still ended up hurt?
The question then becomes, “does Oden want to invest in himself?”
I sure hope Oden is able to be effective in the league because he sure as hell doesn’t have a future in modeling with a face that resembles an old dusty catchers mitt. I just want him to have success somewhere else.
If Miami doesn’t win the title this year, it’ll create a tricky situation next summer. Pat Riley must once again turn on his famous charm. But this time he’ll have to convince James to keep his talents in South Beach.
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