Originally posted on Crossover Chronicles  |  Last updated 12/4/11

Greg Oden was the first pick in the 2007 NBA draft.  This SHOULD be his fifth season in the NBA.  But in all that time he's played in exactly 82 games because his knees have a tendency to explode when he plays basketball.  His last game was two full years ago, and he's still not ready to play basketball again.  But that hasn't stopped him from earning a very nice paycheck.  

The Portland Trailblazers made the qualifying offer to Oden, a restricted free agent.  That means, at the very least, he will earn (I use that term lightly) almost $8.8 million dollars this year.  And not only will that be the case, Oden is drawing interest from other teams, like the Miami Heat.

Because of their limited spending power and the multiple areas of their roster that need shored up, the Miami Heat might have to get a little creative in free agency.

That could be part of their plan to address the center position.

The Heat are considering making a run at restricted free agent Greg Oden, league sources said. Oden, who hasn't played in nearly two years after suffering two different knee injuries, has a key doctor's examination this week when he could be cleared to resume contact practices.

Capped-out teams like the Heat, L.A. Lakers and Boston Celtics are all looking for innovative ways to address shortcomings that, to varying degrees, cost them shots at the championship.  The Heat in particular need a big man that can patrol the paint and make an already tough defense virtually impenetrable, and match up against teams with size that they may face along the way.

So Oden becomes an option.  Not because he's done anything to prove anything to anyone that his body will allow him to fulfill his promise.  But because he's got some promise, and a body that looks like it should back it up.  And because of all that, teams will bank on the "what if" more than the "what was."  

History doesn't matter as much when you're seven feet tall.  It matters less when your performance when you were healthy showed flashes of you being pretty damn good.  

To me, it's like golf.  Well, it's like the way I play golf, anyway.  I suck at it.  But every once in a while, I nail a beauty of a shot.  Or, and this happens less often, I play a great hole and finish with a birdie or a par.  And it keeps me coming back.  I doesn't matter if the one hole I nailed is the only one of a hundred-some-odd holes that I play all season.  That one hole, that one shot, keeps me coming back.  The rest of my game tells me I should just save my money and quit.  

Oden is the same way.  History tells you you should save your money and let him walk.  But that 13 point, 20 rebound game just before he got hurt again has everyone coming back, hoping he could recapture that.  It's probably not going to be Miami.  A guy like Oden won't sacrifice money at this point in his career because, quite frankly, who knows how much of a career he's got left.  But someone will pay him a lot more than his career says he's worth.  Because height and promise are worth a lot in the NBA.  

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This article first appeared on Crossover Chronicles and was syndicated with permission.

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