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Posts Tagged ‘Greg Oden’

The Anatomy of a Spectacular Miami Heat Failure

June 15th, 2014 4 comments

The Miami Heat’s bid for basketball immortality – four straight NBA Finals appearances and three straight NBA titles, a feat which has only been accomplished once in league history – has fallen spectacularly short. In the wake of this colossal failure, we’re all left wondering how it all went so wrong so quickly – how our team ended up looking so old, so slow, so flawed, so unable to adapt, so unable to defend.

Is it an organizational philosophy that failed us?

“I don’t think you win championships with young, athletic players that don’t have experience. I think we’ve learned over the years that building with young players is very frustrating.”

That was Pat Riley in June 2011, describing his aversion to developing youthful talent.

It is a philosophy that he has expressed many different times in many different ways over the years. It is a philosophy that has permeated his every decision in preparation for and during the Big Three era. It is a philosophy upon which the Stepien-like decisions to surrender a whopping six future first round draft picks in a period of less than five months from February to July 2010 were predicated. It is a philosophy upon which the decision to constantly fill the roster with post-dated bench-warming veterans was predicated.

It was a philosophy which, initially, didn’t bother us. We were all so captivated by the moment. Riley had a plan. He executed upon it with deadly precision. He got the big things so right that it didn’t matter how he handled the little things. In Riley we trusted.

The winning that followed only validated that ideology.

But, quietly, things weren’t as wonderful as they appeared. In the wake of the signings of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh in the summer of the 2010, the front office lost sight of its need to build for the future. Everything was always only about the moment.

Some of us couldn’t help but wonder. If your mission is to win as many titles as possible while the Big Three are still in their primes, then wouldn’t you like to have some upside around? Some players who will be getting better with time? Some players who can keep the energy level high when the stars need to rest?

Riley has always had a clear affinity for the seasoned veteran versus the inexperienced rookie. He’d rather have the sure thing than the potential next big thing. But as much as these veterans are low risks to make stupid, rookie-type decisions, none will break free off the dribble in crunch time or make that key defensive stop and then sprint up the floor for a breakaway jam – they’re zero risks to become more athletic, to develop new parts of their games, or to be usable as trade bait should the need arise.  Read more…

Greg Oden to Sign with the Miami Heat

August 3rd, 2013 10 comments

Greg Oden will resume his NBA career as a welcomed member of the Miami Heat.

The No. 1 pick from the 2007 NBA Draft, who has been out of the league since a Dec. 5, 2009 appearance with the Portland Trail Blazers, agreed to terms with the two-time defending champions on Friday, ending months of suspense over where the center whose career has been decimated by a series of knee problems would be attempting his comeback.

The Heat were long perceived as the frontrunners to land Oden, and now have their coveted 7-footer to help them try for a third straight title. Oden has agreed to a one-year deal worth approximately $1 million.

Those who watched Oden during his one season at Ohio State need no reminder of what he’s capable of when healthy. His NBA career, limited to just 82 games over five seasons, has been far less substantive. But he has nonetheless dominated in his short bursts.

Through the first 21 games of the 2009-10 season, Oden’s most recent in the NBA, he averaged 22.3 points, 17.0 rebounds, and 4.6 blocks per 48 minutes while shooting 61% from the field, including a 13-point, 20-rebound, 4-block performance against Miami in his last full NBA game. He was looking very much like the game-changing talent he was supposed to be. He got into foul trouble a little more than he should have, but he showed enough flashes of brilliance in his modest playing time to convince most NBA observers that he was well on his way to living up to the burden of being a first overall draft pick.

That’s exactly the sort of production the Heat covets at the center position.

Oden wasn’t courted by the Heat because they wanted something more than the back-to-back championships to rub in everyone’s faces. They signed him because they need a center. They signed him because of Joakim Noah, Roy Hibbert, Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Dwight Howard, and Tim Duncan. They signed him because Chris Bosh is too frail and Udonis Haslem is too short. Oden has legitimate value.

Of course, even the most optimistic Oden fans will concede that the Heat are not getting the former Greg Oden. His past accomplishments hold little predictive value for his return to the court more than three years later. His injury history is unprecedented for a pro athlete.

Maybe it has just been a series of highly unfortunate events, connected to each other in a way that a small change – whether it be to his gait, to his weight, or whatever else – can fix. Or maybe they’re interconnected, the continued failings of a body that just can’t cope with the stresses professional basketball places upon it, dating back to a broken hip in his childhood and continuing indefinitely through a kinetic chain of side effects.

Most believe it’s the former. But if it’s the latter, the rest of the league is in serious trouble.  Read more…

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Analyzing a Potential Miami Heat Offer to Greg Oden

July 26th, 2013 2 comments

To some extent, the Miami Heat’s back-to-back NBA championships validate the organization’s “position-less basketball” approach. Success is sports’ ultimate argument-ender. It sets everything right.

But Pat Riley knows what everybody else does. If the Heat want to win a third straight NBA title, it might be important to get some size.

His primary target is Greg Oden, because he knows a true center – particularly a dominant inside presence – still has a place, even here. He witnessed what Indiana and then San Antonio did to the Heat in the playoffs, to push Miami to seven games last season largely because of low-post presence and bigger frontcourts. He knows what Chicago could do.

Despite the clear need for depth at the center position, it has been a quiet offseason for Miami. It has felt at times that the Heat have thus far moved at a glacial pace to start the summer. Fans have been waiting for some action, something to celebrate.

In recent summers, Miami has been able to attract notable free agents such as Shane Battier and Ray Allen despite their limited cap space, but they have yet to ink even a single outside free agent yet this summer. Thus far, the team’s biggest addition has been second-round pick James Ennis, who was acquired in a trade on draft night.

The tension in South Florida surrounding Oden’s fate is palpable. The idea of Oden signing with the Heat has been a dream for some for many months, if not years.

Acquiring Oden would be a major development. But it won’t be easy.

Other teams in the mix include Atlanta, Dallas, New Orleans, Sacramento and San Antonio. Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Indiana and Memphis have since fallen away as contenders. That more than one-third of the league has shown interest in Oden speaks volumes not only as to the level of talent he once had, but also to the contributions those in a position to know still believe he may be able to provide.  Read more…

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Chris Andersen to Donate Knees to Greg Oden

July 3rd, 2013 No comments

Miami Heat free agent forward/center Chris “Birdman” Andersen has agreed to donate his knees to Greg Oden.

In what will be an unusual and complicated procedure, doctors will reportedly saw off both of Andersen’s knees from the bottom of the femur (thigh bone) to the top of the tibia (shin bone), do the same with Oden, and then make the swap.

When asked for comment, Andersen remained modest and humble. Rather than revealing his true motivation, he provided some levity to the situation by saying “I’m the Birdman. I’m colorful. I think it will be cool to have a pair of brown knee pads.”

Andersen was referring to the fact that in order to maintain continuity of the body’s most crucial joint, doctors will swap not only the underlying bones, ligaments and tendons but also the skin that covers them. The bones will be attached to their new bodies with high-grade, medical-quality superglue and the skin then sutured together.

In conjunction with the procedure, both Oden and Andersen will sign multi-year contracts with the Heat that will see them through the surgery and their rehabilitation.

The recovery time for each player is estimated to be approximately six to nine months.

Upon successful recovery, Oden is expected to be completely healthy for the first time in his NBA career. Despite his injury-riddled history, he will still be just 26 years old. Heat president Pat Riley is hoping that Oden will make it back for the last month or so of the upcoming regular season, and then become a major contributor for the 2014 NBA playoffs.  Read more…

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Miami Heat 2013 Offseason Primer

July 1st, 2013 No comments

Over the past three offseasons, the Miami Heat has constructed, augmented and refined.

Three summers ago, it was uniting LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Mike Miller with Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem as a team that would reach the NBA Finals.

The following offseason, one delayed by a lockout, glue guy Shane Battier supplemented the mix to help the Heat win the 2012 NBA championship.

And last summer, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis were added to help turn the 2012 title into a 2013 repeat.

Because of the team’s ongoing success, as well as the 2013-14 contract options of Allen, Lewis, James Jones and Mario Chalmers all leading them back for another season, there doesn’t figure to be much heavy lifting this time around.

The NBA’s free agency period officially began Monday morning at 12:01 EDT.

While teams can start negotiating immediately, most free agent signings, and all trades, cannot be officially executed until July 10, allowing the league time to compute revenues for the now-expired 2012-13 season and finalize the salary cap and luxury-tax calculations for 2013-14.

However, signings that do not rely in any way upon the specific value of the salary cap can be executed with the start of the new salary cap year on July 1. Such signings include minimum salary deals for up to two years in length.

For the Heat, still basking in a second consecutive championship, the concerns are limited, with 12 players already under guaranteed contract for next season: James, Wade, Bosh, Chalmers, Haslem, Battier, Allen, Lewis, Jones, Miller, Joel Anthony and Norris Cole. In addition, neophyte power forward Jarvis Varnado has a non-guaranteed contract in place that becomes $250,000 guaranteed if he is on the opening-night roster.

That’s 13 regular-season rosters spots potentially filled. Teams can have as many as 20 players under contract in the offseason, in addition to players involved in summer-camp and summer-league tryouts, but need to reduce to between 13 and 15 by the start of the regular season.

While virtually the entire championship core from last season has already committed to return, there is still work to be done:  Read more…

The Final Miami Heat Roster Spot

March 1st, 2013 No comments

The trade deadline has now passed. The waiver deadline for playoff eligibility has now passed.

The Miami Heat created a roster spot by trading away Dexter Pittman, at a cost of a second round draft pick and some cash, and nobody worthy of the spot has shaken free.

What should the Heat do?

Keep it. For now, anyway. Save some money. It is, after all, a nice insurance policy.

Then deploy it at the end of the regular season. Here’s why.

Both the Miami Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers have reportedly had a strong interest in signing former Portland Trail Blazer center Greg Oden to a multi-year contract this season. The reason is clear. When healthy, Oden is a game-changing talent who, in his limited minutes thus far as an NBA pro, has made a serious impact down low. And while he’s never intended to play this season, a multi-year contract would have ensured either team his playing services for next season on a low-money contract.

How low?

The Heat’s only available multi-year offer would be a two-year minimum salary contract (i.e., the remainder of this season and next). The Cavaliers are still in position to use cap space to offer an up to four year contract staring at roughly $4 million.

Some in South Florida have been skeptical. Some believe the cost and the risk, when combined, are so great as to not justify the potential reward. But here’s the thing: there is no risk. None at all.  Read more…

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Addressing the Miami Heat Need At Center

July 16th, 2012 4 comments

We’re NBA champions.

And we’ve gotten better. It’s a beautiful thing. This Miami Heat team is nearly perfect.

Nearly.

For the third straight season the Heat finds itself in need of a center — one who is both reasonably sized and knows how to rebound a basketball.

While we applaud head coach Erik Spoelstra’s decision to embrace a ‘position-less’ half court offensive philosophy that has Chris Bosh in that role, it is perhaps a less than ideal strategy over the course of a largely meaningless but still very grueling 82-game regular season.

And it’s a strategy not without its risks. Though the strategy (which essentially entails surrounding the Big Three with two wing players rather than a true center) has produced phenomenal results over the past two regular and post seasons, it has been tested over a grand total of just 568 minutes, the equivalent of fewer than 12 games. The Heat has gone all-in on an approach that is still very much unproven.

While ‘position-less’ might be a nice term to throw around, what it really boils down to is an accommodation for the team’s lack of size, and a lack of skill, at the five spot. The approach could prove costly against more physically imposing front lines.

Pat Riley has, at least for now, put his faith in seldom-used third year center Dexter Pittman to fill the void. Riley cemented his belief by choosing to guarantee Pittman’s contract for the upcoming season.

But Pittman isn’t the answer. Neither is Joel Anthony.

So we are left sifting through a slew of uninspiring alternatives.

Darko Milicic. Eddy Curry. Hamed Haddadi. Joel Przybilla. Joey Dorsey. Nazr Mohammed. Ronnie Turiaf. Tony Battie. Etc.

Not one is a difference maker.  Read more…

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Oh the trade possibilities we could see…

June 18th, 2010 14 comments

Take a look at that left knee cap

Blazers fans have gotten used to this. Since Kevin Pritchard took over the reigns as general manager six years ago, he has seen his team through some sort of draft-related trade every season. Usually it’s more than one. In 2006, it was six.

Pritchard has a history of aggressively trading up in the draft in an effort to build a deep, talented roster. He has engineered brilliant draft-day deals that have landed players such as Victor Claver and Jeff Pendergraph in 2009, Nicolas Batum and Jerryd Bayless in 2008, Rudy Fernandez in 2007 and Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Sergio Rodriguez in 2006.

If all the buzz is true, this year will be no different. Pritchard, who will reportedly be fired immediately after the draft, seems to want to go out with a bang. The Blazers hold the No. 22 and No. 44 picks in the upcoming draft, but are weighing their options in an attempt to move up. The team has reportedly been hunting for a pick in the mid first round — somewhere between No.16 and 19. They appear to be trying to move ahead of the San Antonio Spurs, who hold pick No. 20.

Portland recently signed 36-year old Marcus Camby to a contract extension worth up to $26 million over the next two seasons. The Blazers also stand to get back Joel Przybilla at some point, after he injured his knee in December and missed the rest of the season, then re-injured the same knee in March when he slipped in the shower, which required a second surgery. The oft-injured Greg Oden rounds out the trio of 7-footer centers now has in Portland.

But rumor has it that the Blazers are looking to draft yet another big.

Could this be the end of the Greg Oden era in Portland?

Read more…

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