Free agent big man Greg Oden who hasn't played since the 2009 10 season because of debilitating injuries to both knees wants to give it another shot and the two time defending champion Miami Heat are willing to give him that chance.
Oden reached a two year deal with the Heat a person familiar with Oden's decision told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal until it was officially announced. The deal is for the veteran's minimum and the second year is a player option.
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Oden had a conference call on Thursday with his agent Mike Conley Sr. and a team of advisors including Bill Duffy the chairman and CEO of BDA Sports the agency for which Conley works. He reached a decision sometime after that.
In the last few weeks Oden met with or talked with the Atlanta Hawks Dallas Mavericks Miami Heat New Orleans Pelicans Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs.
It's a minimum investment with a potentially decent return. Oden is strong around the rim and even if he provided a solid 10 12 minutes per game he will be a worthwhile signing. At 7 0 280 pounds Oden gives Miami size and strength inside if healthy.
One person who watched Oden work out told USA TODAY Sports that Oden was further along than expected when it came to agility conditioning and jumping exercises. But the person also said Oden was limited in on court basketball drills.
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The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the workout.
Oden who has played in just 82 games was the No. 1 pick in 2007 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers but missed the entire 2007 08 season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee. Oden played in 61 games in 2008 09 and averaged 8.9 points and 7.0 rebounds.
But injury struck again early in the 2009 10 season. In his 21st game Oden sustained a fractured left patella (kneecap) and missed the rest of the season. He hasn't played since. He was off to a strong start too averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per game.
Oden underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in November 2010 and has rehabbed and worked out to get himself in this position for another shot perhaps his last at playing in the NBA.
ESPN first reported Oden's decision.
In a 2007 photo Oden shows the scar on his right knee from his first microfracture surgery.(Photo Rick Bowmer AP)
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