The former No. 1 overall pick has dealt with knee injuries throughout his career. ESPN, which first reported the potential comeback, notes that the center has not played since December of 2009 while dealing with numerous knee injuries. In fact, he has only played in 82 games since being drafted back in 2007, per the Washington Post. Oden had his most recent microfracture surgery on his left knee in February 2012.
The report notes that Oden will likely not play at all before the 2013-14 season. But rumors indicate that Miami has already been following the center's progress.
This is not surprising, considering the Heat nearly signed Oden this past off-season. The squad has struggled to find a center for years. Oden's size and potential made him an intriguing option. However, he instead agreed to a restructured deal with the team that drafted him, the Portland Trail Blazers. The squad then waived him a few months later after his aforementioned knee surgery.
It is possible that Oden could thrive with a new medical staff behind him. Portland's medical team has a poor reputation, partly thanks to an article written by a doctor who was asked by the team to examine Oden back in 2008. The doctor claims that the team ignored all of his suggestions and actually tried to discredit the test results.
However, in order for this rumor to come to fruition, the Heat will likely need to dump some cap space. ESPN notes that Miami will have a payroll near $90 million next year and is currently $14 million over the luxury tax line.
Oden comes with other risks as well. Besides his injury history, the center admitted in an interview with Grantland that he started having alcohol problems during his second year in the league. At the time, his cousin had just moved in with him after spending time in the Air Force.
"If you know anything about guys in the Air Force, it's that they drink a ton," Oden said. "My cousin got wrapped up in the NBA lifestyle and threw parties at my house all the time. So I got wrapped up in it too. When I played well, I'd drink to celebrate. And when I played poorly, I'd drink to forget. That second year in Portland I pretty much became an alcoholic."
Here are some Twitter reactions to Greg Oden's potential return to the NBA.
Crazy s**t ... my mom been saying we should look at Greg Oden ... I was like hell no. For he can trip over his foot and be out forever.
— Danielle. (@OhhItsDani) January 10, 2013
Greg oden ... one of the biggest wastes of talents ever in the nba!
Greg Oden was about to sign with the Heat, but he tore his ACL reading the contract.
— Not Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayliss)