With open roster spot, could Heat sign Oden?
MIAMI — The Miami Heat have an open roster spot. So let the speculation begin.
The Heat on Thursday traded center Dexter Pittman and a second-round pick and an undisclosed amount of cash to Memphis for the rights to forward Ricky Sanchez, leaving them with 14 players on guaranteed contracts. For a possible 15th spot, Greg Oden’s agent said his client remains a possibility.
“He hasn’t made any decisions yet. So yes,’’ Mike Conley told FOX Sports Florida. “We're going to get him down there for a visit.’’
Conley said no visit has been scheduled yet. It’s not likely Oden, the often-injured center who was the top pick in the NBA draft in 2007 and hasn’t played in a game since December 2009, would make any decisions until after March 1. That’s the deadline for players to be bought out and sign with another team and be eligible for the playoffs.
Conley said Oden could join a team for the remainder of this season to continue to rehab his knee. But Conley said Oden, who has had five knee operations since entering the NBA, won’t play this season.
The Heat might not do anything until they see which players are available after March 1. But another player available now who could be a possibility is Lou Amundson, a power forward recently waived by Minnesota.
A source said Amundson would welcome signing with Miami. "He'd love that,'' said the source.
Heat president Pat Riley always has liked Amundson, who was a teammate at UNLV of current Heat center Joel Anthony. When Amundson was undrafted in 2006, the Heat offered him guaranteed money but he decided instead to sign with Sacramento.
The Heat basically gave Pittman away to create a roster opening. Sanchez, originally taken in the second round of the 2005 draft, never has played in the NBA and isn't ever expected to. Sanchez, 25, is currently playing in Argentina.
Pittman played three seasons with Heat and did not show the type of improvement the team had sought. He spent most of this season in the D-League, having only appeared in four Miami games. In those games, Pittman averaged 1.5 points and 1.8 rebounds over 3.0 minutes.
“I want to thank Dexter for his hard work and professional attitude,” Riley said in a statement. “Unfortunately, in order to gain roster flexibility we had to trade someone. We wish him nothing but the best.”
The Heat like to keep around a project big man in hopes he will develop into a rotation player. That’s what happened with Anthony, now in his sixth year with the team.
Pittman was no longer wanted for that role after the Heat recently signed Jarvis Varnado for remainder of this season with a team option for next season. Varnado had first told FOX Sports Florida earlier this month about the option for next season, which would enable him to play with the Heat during the summer league and perhaps attend next fall’s training camp.
"My biggest thing is staying healthy," Varnado said of developing into a player the Heat would want to keep long-term. "I've been kind of injured the last two summer leagues I played with (Miami). If I can just be healthy throughout the summer league and training camp and show them what I can do."
For now, though, the Heat have an open roster spot. It remains to be seen if they try to fill it with a player who can make an impact this season or look to a player such as Oden who could help down the road.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson