Greg Oden’s journey back to the NBA has been slow and deliberate. It will continue to be slow and deliberate, but at least he’s on a roster and the possibility of playing in a game is real.
Oden, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since December 2009, arrived in the Bahamas for training camp with the Miami Heat, who signed him for the league minimum as a free agent over the summer. Just being back in basketball is a big step after missing all of last season.
“I can run,” Oden, betrayed by his knees so often that he played in only 82 games over 4 1/2 seasons, said (via Fox Sports). “The past three years, I haven’t been able to do that. … I’ve got a lot to prove to myself. I’ve been rehabbing for three years. … It’s been a long road.”
There’s no guarantee that his time with the Heat will end better than his days with the Portland Trail Blazers, who made him the No. 1 pick in 2007. “I’ve got to go through training camp and make sure my body holds up. If the knee holds up, I would hope they will let me play in the preseason,” Oden said. “I think it’s realistic. Just going on how my body feels and how I feel, I think it’s realistic.”
He participated in about half of the Heat’s practice Tuesday. “It felt good just being out there,” Oden, who hasn’t been cleared for contact, said (via the Sun-Sentinel). “First time in a while, I’m happy I got it completed. They had to pull me off the floor. But I’ve got to take steps.”
Expectations are clear, realistic and reasonable, even though he admits he’d like to play in preseason games.
“It’s step by step, practice by practice, minute by minute,” Coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So he was able to do about a half-hour of work today, the majority of it non-contact, and that was a big bonus and we’ll move on from here.”