“Sometimes, you can go back to a half a dozen athletes that started their careers, Kurt Thomas with the broken feet, [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas. There have been a number of players that started their career missing two or three years with injuries and then all of a sudden they never had another problem again.”
The Heat had interaction with Oden twice this year, first in Miami with Riley during the season, and again last week, when Spoelstra and vice president/player personnel Chet Kammerer watched him work out in Indianapolis. Feedback from that session was positive.
Deshaun Thomas, who attended Ohio State (Oden’s former school), trained with Oden before this year’s draft and told The Oregonian that “he looks unbelievable.”
Portland bypassed Kevin Durant to draft Oden first overall in 2007, but he didn’t play in his rookie season because of a knee injury, then appeared in 61 games in his second season and just 21 in his third.
He hasn’t played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009, and has undergone five knee procedures — including three microfracture surgeries, the most recent in February 2012.
But when Oden has played, he was effective, averaging 8.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 82 games and just 22.1 minutes per game.
While away from the game in recent years, Oden reportedly battled depression and alcoholism, but there has been no indication of any recent setbacks.
Oden gives the Heat 13 players with guaranteed contracts. Jarvis Varnado has a non-guaranteed deal. His signing will allow the Heat to play Chris Bosh more at power forward. But Bosh will continue to log heavy minutes at center because Oden’s minutes will be monitored.