Greg Oden officially signed with the Miami Heat on Wednesday and the welcome was a little less intense than he’s used to.
There was no press conference, no giant photos on display, just a statement from Heat President Pat Riley and an admission by Oden that he’s “a work in progress.”
“It’s a great challenge for him,” Riley said in a statement. “We know all about his past injuries, but we feel that there is a huge upside and the possibility of him helping us. We will continue his program and then we will tackle basketball issues after that.”
Oden, the No. 1 draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007, has not played in the NBA since December 2009 and has had microfracture on his knees three times. He communicated by press release, too.
Oden, drafted ahead of Kevin Durant, was released by Portland in March 2012 and has been most frequently been seen writhing in pain with yet another awful knee injury. Still, Riley thought it was worth taking a chance on Oden, who signed a two-year, $2.1 million contract, with a player option for 2014-15.
He’ll be brought along slowly and there’ll be less pressure with the presence of LeBron James in the lineup. James, Oden told ESPN, made a sales pitch via text.
“When I had a conversation with Coach [Erik] Spoelstra and hearing how much he knew about the training stuff that I was already doing, it kind of made me feel like they know what’s best for me,” Oden told ESPN.
“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m 100 percent. I am moving [well] and I am feeling good, but I have a lot of work to do.”