(Also, Pelicans, I suspect that after three-plus years in the shadows, Oden might enjoy a bit of spotlight again.)
Heat fans should hope the chance to play with LeBron and win a ring is as enticing to Oden as the money factor.
Miami would love to get him for the $1 million veterans minimum, but it might take the $3.2 million midlevel exception instead. In Miamis case, the actual cost would be much more because of the leagues onerous luxury tax. But if you weighed signing Oden at that midlevel against the money the club just saved on luxury tax by waiving Miller, the Heat would still come out about $11million ahead.
The Heat can afford Oden, in other words.
And it can afford to use the 2013-14 season as a no-pressure developmental year for him, with an eye on having him fully back for the following season.
I suspect Rileys vision might have included Oden, whom he has long coveted, when he said, When 2014 hits, well be ready to deal with that. Well be prepared for anything.
Every current Heat player will be eligible for free agency next summer. An Oden who is completely healthy then could be a huge asset in convincing LeBron to re-sign long term, the clubs absolute imperative. A healthy Oden also would be a hedge against possibly losing Chris Bosh or others in free agency.
Odens immense potential can hardly be overstated. He was a No. 1 overall draft pick. He still is only 25, and a very low-mileage 25, after playing only one season at Ohio State and then parts of two NBA years equating to one full season.
He is 7 feet and 275 pounds, and he is medically set to be cleared for full contact in August and to be ready for the start of somebodys training camp.
Oden and knee surgeries have been the word-association game for so long, it is easy to forget, and bears remembering, that in 82 career NBA games the equal of one full season he has averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 58 percent shooting in only 22 minutes per game.
His productivity has never been an issue, when healthy. That continues a massive if until proved otherwise, but, for Miami, right now, thats a calculated, smart gamble.
Postscript: LeBrons high school in Akron, Ohio, and the Indianapolis medical center where Oden has done much of his rehabilitation both happen to be named in honor of Saint Vincent.