Greg Oden is nearing a decision and will host three teams, including the Miami Heat, this week to watch him work out (as fun as that sounds), according to an ESPN.com report.
The other teams that will watch Oden do stuff are the New Orleans Pelicans and the Sacramento Kings.
However, the same report maintains that the San Antonio Spurs and Heat remain Oden’s top suitors. So now the Spurs and Heat find themselves facing off again for the services of the 7-footer.
Both teams offer Oden a chance to compete for a title in a low-pressure environment and the luxury to work himself back to game-day shape at his pace, and eventually into the lineup.
The Spurs resigned Tiago Splitter and are comfortable at center, but with DeJaun Blair not resigned, could use Oden as a developmental guy with low risk and high reward.
The Heat also view Oden as a low-risk, high-reward player but have a little more depth at center, with Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen locked up and Joel Anthony and Udonis Haslem still on the roster.
However, Oden would be a change-of-pace from who the Heat currently have — no true center — where as the Spurs already have a true center in Splitter.
So who should Oden pick? Let’s break down the choices:
San Antonio Spurs
- The Spurs could offer Oden more playing time. Why? They can plug him into the rotation without having to dramatically change style-of-play and has a lack of depth at the position.
- Less spotlight equals not being asked the “when are you coming back?” question every day.
- Gregg Popovich (just ask Tim Duncan, Tony Parker or Manu Ginobili)
- On the other hand, it could be harder for Oden to earn playing time due to the relative redundancy from Splitter to Oden.
- Aging roster – is it where he wants to be long term?
- San Antonio < Miami
- Gregg Popovich (just ask Stephen Jackson)
- Oden offers the Heat a specific need, which could equate to consistent playing time.
- Miami > San Antonio
- Opportunity to play alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
- LeBron James
- LeBron James
- Strong locker room. I know you could say “well, hey, wait, the Spurs have a strong locker room.” But, hey, wait, do they? Just ask Stephen Jackson (I know, you shouldn’t take life advice from Jackson, but still). See what he said about the Spurs’ locker room on Dan Le Batard’s show. Does Popp play favorites?
- LeBron James
- The spotlight and constant badgering that comes with playing in Miami could get, well, annoying. But would LeBron and the Boys absorb some of that badgering?
- Heat style of play (aka fast, transition centric) could wear on Oden’s knees.
- Can Oden figure out the Heat’s defense to earn playing time?
More on that last bit: The Heat play a very unique style of defense from the rest of the league. The main difference being the fact that most teams sit back when defending the pick-and-roll, while the Heat still opt to blitz the ball handler. Because of this, the Heat rely on timely and precise help on the backside of the play. This “blitz-and-help” defense can be a struggle for some players.
However, if a player offers something specifically helpful, such as being a great three-point shooter (Mike Miller and James Jones) then he can still earn playing time. Even if Oden can’t get a handle of this defense, his size and athleticism could be enough to warrant some playing time.
So there it is. It’s clear which team Oden should choose, right? Nothing helps like a simple list of pros and cons.