|Greg Oden is returning to the NBA with the Miami Heat. (theleaguenews.com)|
Greg Oden is back in the NBA after not playing since December of 2009, and his first season back will give him his best chance so far of winning a NBA Championship.
Oden announced Friday he has chosen to play for Miami over San Antonio, Dallas, Sacramento, Atlanta and New Orleans. Oden will now get the opportunity to immerse himself back into the league as Chris Bosh's backup, and the Heat get a 25-year-old 7-footer with loads of potential if his knees hold up.
We wrote earlier about how teams should take a chance on Oden. Miami is able to take that chance at a low cost, paying Oden $1.03 million next season with a player option for a second season at $1.14 million. That's a low cost of injury risk when you remember Oden was a No. 1 pick, who left the league for reasons other than he couldn't play well in the league.
Oden told ESPN's Marc Stein and Jeff Goodman that Miami was the "best fit" and for what Oden is looking for, it's hard to argue. Miami already has so many pieces, including a capable starting center, that Oden will not be called on to contribute 15 points and eight rebounds a night from the start. He will be able to slowly get back into form without Miami struggling in the post. Plus, having star players, including the best player in the world in LeBron James, who will draw the majority of the attention and can creatively get Oden the ball will take a lot of pressure off the 7-footer.
There won't be a huge target on Oden's back. Miami has too many other pieces that opposing teams will be focusing on. This is important for Oden. It would be naive to think he could come back after not playing for three-and-half-years and pick up where he left off. It will take time, and time, without pressure, is something Miami can offer.
The first step is in the books. Oden is back with a NBA team. The next test comes in October when Oden again puts on the jersey and prays his knees take him further this time around.
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