Miami Heat fans could get a glimpse of Greg Oden before the preseason is over, according to a report by ESPN. Oden will likely be cleared for full practice work soon and could see his first NBA action in four years.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra won’t rule out playing Oden in at least one of the team’s five remaining preseason games if the 7-foot center avoids any setbacks or recurring swelling in his knees, which have endured multiple surgeries the past five years.
“The next step for me now is just doing some five-on-five work and just getting out there,” Oden told ESPN.com. “Every little step for me, I just get excited. I just want to get out there and do more and more, get my wind back, get my legs back under me. I’m hoping in the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to get a couple of minutes out there.”
In what has surprisingly been an interesting off-season for the Heat, Oden’s imminent arrival makes things all the more exciting. Currently, the Heat are rolling with a front-court of Chris Bosh, Chris Anderson, Udonis Haslem, and Joel Anthony. While Bosh, Haslem, and Anderson are locks to play big minutes at the four and five positions, Oden has a great chance, if not an advantage, to win the minutes at the backup center position over Anthony.
Anthony played 566 minutes (9.1 minutes per game) last season following 1,300-plus minutes in both the ’10-’11 and ’11-’12 seasons (19.5 minutes and 21.1 minutes respectively). In the post-season last year in the Heat’s title run, Anthony’s minutes dipped even more, and he only played 5.1 minutes per game.
While Oden probably isn’t ready for big minutes early in the season, he should have no problem taking away minutes from Anthony once he is ready to get into the fold. That is… assuming he doesn’t get injured. That’s one big assumption at this point. But for Oden’s sake, hopefully he can keep those legs going for a whole season for the first time in his career.