The Miami Heat have re-signed center Chris Andersen. They have until Wednesday to determine if they will use the amnesty clause to release a player.
Then the next order of business appears to be going after free-agent center Greg Oden.
Oden’s agent, Mike Conley Sr., told FOX Sports Florida on Friday he plans soon to resume talks with Heat president Pat Riley, who has been taking care of other business. He said Oden, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since December 2009 because of knee injuries, remains very interested in signing with Miami this summer and he believes the Heat want Oden.
“Obviously, they’ve got a need there,” Conley said of a center. “It’s a situation where they probably can’t go out and get a top player (with the money they have), but they can take chance on somebody like Greg and his upside. The exposure (of playing for the Heat) would be good for Greg. He could work his way back into his game. I think Miami is a good situation.”
Other than being able to offer Oden a minimum deal, the Heat have their taxpayer mid-level exception available that starts at $3.183 million. Conley wouldn’t speculate on whether that is what would be required to sign Oden, but he did say it’s good the Andersen deal clears up what the Heat could pay.
“I think it obviously makes it easier because they know how much money they have available,” Conley said of Andersen having signed a deal essentially for the minimum next year of $1.68 million while the Heat didn’t use the taxpayer mid-level exception on him. “We haven’t been down that road yet but I anticipate we will be shortly.”
In addition to the Heat, teams in the mix for Oden, 25, include San Antonio, Boston and Charlotte. Conley confirmed Cleveland, once thought to be high on Oden’s list, is out of the running after bringing in free-agent center Andrew Bynum.
Riley two weeks ago confirmed the Heat’s interest in Oden. He said Oden earlier this year had a “good two-day” visit with the team in Miami, although Conley didn’t want to comment on it.
“We will explore that and see where it goes because of the possibilities,” Riley had said about Oden, who has been plagued by knee problems since being drafted first overall in 2007. “I think he’s such a young player and to be such a force, that you’d want to monitor him very closely.”
Conley said Oden continues to work out in his hometown of Indianapolis and in Columbus, Ohio, where he played at Ohio State.
“He’s on schedule for that,” Conley said of his belief Oden could be ready for the regular-season opener.
Conley said Oden hasn’t worked out for any teams yet this summer but soon could do so. However, he said Oden won’t be able to do any contact drills until later in the summer.
“It depends on the team,” Conley said about whether Oden’s inability to do any contact work until then would delay how long it might take him to sign.
Before getting to Oden, the Heat must decide whether they will use the amnesty rule before Wednesday. If not utilized by then, it would not be available again until next July.
The rule allows a one-time chance for a team to waive a player and not have to pay luxury tax on him. There continues to be speculation that guard Mike Miller, due $12.8 million over the next two seasons, could be let go. The Heat would save more than $20 million on such a deal due to a more punitive luxury tax entering the NBA next season and then continuing to increase.
Riley said two weeks ago he wants to keep Miller and only wouldn’t if a “mandate” came from owner Micky Arison.
When that situation is settled, it appears Miami’s next order of business will be going after Oden.