Oden had his third microfracture surgery (his left knee) back in February 2012. Over the course of three full seasons in Portland, he played in just 82 games, which equals out to just one full season.
He averaged 9.7 points and 7.3 rebounds over that span.
Oden hasn’t played since December 5, 2009.
The Miami Heat appear to be the favorites to sign Oden once he returns. Miami recently cleared up a few roster spots by releasing guard Terrel Harris and forward Josh Harrellson, although they did recently re-sign Harrleson to a 10-day contract.
The Heat could essentially sign Oden and keep him on the roster until he finishes his rehab.
Miami is currently tied in to over $80 million in salary for next season, and that number could dramatically rise with the new luxury tax kicking in. The Heat are also $14 million over the threshold for this year as well.
Even at the minimum, signing Oden could be a risky move, and that doesn’t even take into account his numerous injuries that have kept him out of action all this time.
With the Heat’s struggles to rebound the basketball (39.0 a game, 29th in the NBA) as of late, GM Pat Riley is truly trying to pull a rabbit out of his hat with hopes that (over time) a guy like Oden could help improve the teams deficiencies in that department.
Is he worth the risk?
Yes, Oden’s injury history is well-documented, but at one time, he was projected as the “next great thing” at the center position in the NBA.
That was before a series of knee injuries basically ruined his career.
If a signing between the two parties eventually comes into fruition, it won’t necessarily make the Heat any more of a favourite to win another NBA Championship than they already are.
Besides, Oden will not be back on the court this season. This would be an investment that could (hopefully) pay off in future years.
This could very well be Oden’s last shot to rectify his basketball career and stay healthy.
If he falls yet again, he will simply be remembered as that guy who was selected ahead of Kevin Durant.