Greg Oden, Heat appear to have mutual interest
MIAMI — Greg Oden and his agent know what everybody else does. If the Miami Heat want to win a third straight NBA title, it might be important to get some size.
Oden is willing to help.
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Oden’s agent, Mike Conley, told FOX Sports Florida by phone Friday that the free-agent center remains very interested in signing with the Heat this summer and the feeling is mutual. Conley expects to talk with Heat president Pat Riley when free agency begins July 1 about the 7-foot Oden, the 2007 No. 1 draft pick who hasn’t played in the NBA since December 2009 due to knee problems.
“The Heat need some size, that’s not a secret,” Conley said. “Whether it’s in a backup role or whatever, he could help them. I know they’re interested in him and he’s interested in them.”
The Heat won their second consecutive title with a 95-88 victory Thursday over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. It was their second straight seven-game series after having defeated the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Pacers exposed Miami s lack of size as 7-2 center Roy Hibbert had a dominant series. The Chicago Bulls also pose some problems for Miami in the East with their size.
“The Miami Heat make sense,” Conley said of his client possibly landing there.
Other teams in the mix for Oden include Cleveland, San Antonio, Charlotte and Boston. Along with the Heat, Oden, who played at Ohio State, has most been linked with the Cavaliers.
“He still likes Cleveland, but we’ll have to see what they do in the draft,” Conley said of the Cavaliers, who have the No. 1 pick in next Thursday’s draft and could take Maryland center Alex Len or Kentucky forward/center Nerlens Noel.
Oden, 25, has been hampered by numerous knee problems since being taken No. 1 by Portland in the 2007 draft. But he has been continuing to rehab in Columbus, Ohio, and his hometown of Indianapolis.
“He’s doing great. I think he could be ready for the regular-season opener,” Conley said. “I’m not sure he’d be ready to play significant minutes. But it would depend on whether the team that he went to wanted him to play right away or not.”
Conley said Oden is willing to work out with teams in July, including the Heat. But the agent said he “wouldn’t do contact” in a workout.
Miami will have the taxpayer midlevel exception starting at $3.183 million to pay a free agent this summer. However, some of that money might be needed if the Heat want to re-sign center Chris “Birdman” Andersen.
Andersen’s agent, Mark Bryant, told FOX Sports Florida early in the playoffs that Andersen is hopeful of remaining in Miami. Andersen hasn’t been willing yet to speculate on his future.
Also, Milwaukee center Samuel Dalembert, who will become a free agent July 1, told FOX Sports early in the playoffs he has interest in signing with Miami. The Heat pursued Dalembert as a free agent before the 2011-12 season.
When asked whether Miami’s available amount of $3.183 million would be sufficient to sign Oden, Conley said, “We haven’t gone down that road.” The market will determine Oden’s value when free agency gets under way.
“He’s really excited,”’ Conley said about Oden wanting to get back in the NBA. “I’ve never seen him this excited.”