Greg Oden's contract with the Heat does not include a second year at his option, as was initially reported.
ShamSports.com reported Wednesday that Oden's deal, signed earlier this month, is simply a one-year agreement at the veteran's minimum. CSNNW.com confirmed those details with Oden's agent, Mike Conley.
Earlier this month, multiple outlets, including the Associated Press, reported that the agreement would have a second season at Oden's option.
A straight one-year deal makes life more difficult for the Heat if Oden is able to become a productive player again after a series of knee injuries derailed his career, but it also reduces their financial liability should his comeback prove unsuccessful.
In a best-case scenario, Oden fully recuperates and holds a spot in coach Erik Spoelstra's rotation come playoff time. Should that happen, he would enter the summer of 2014 in a position to command far more than Miami's minimum; indeed, a number of teams reportedly were offering Oden more than a minimum this summer. The Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all become free agents next summer, meaning the Heat would be in a tight spot, likely left to hope that Oden, like Chris "Birdman" Andersen this summer, was willing to give them a discount to stick with a winner.
Alternatively, Miami avoids the worst-case scenario where Oden's comeback fizzles but he decides to pick up his option anyway. The Heat would have been on the hook for his 2014-15 salary and any luxury tax penalties that his presence would incur. Under the NBA's new graduated luxury tax system, it's possible that a $1 million minimum-salary contract for Oden in 2014-15 would wind up costing the Heat more than $3.5 million total once luxury tax penalties are included (depending on where their total team payroll figure and the league's luxury tax line wind up falling).
Oden, 25, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft by the Blazers but has not played since Dec. 5, 2009.
After being released by the Blazers in March 2012, Oden has been rehabilitating from multiple knee surgeries in February 2012, including a second microfracture surgery on his left knee and arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. Prior to that round of surgeries, Oden also had left knee surgery in 2009 after fracturing his patella, microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2010 to address a “defect” that occurred during non-contact rehabilitation work, and a microfracture surgery on his right knee in 2007. Oden also reportedly underwent Orthokine injections on both knees back in May 2012 and admitted to problems with alcohol during his time with the Blazers.
He told reporters over the weekend that he had "some dark times" in Portland but that he was looking forward to a new chapter in Miami.
"After three years of being out, I'm just going to go out and do what I can,'' Oden said, according to the Associated Press. "If somehow (my body) says no, then it says no. But for me, I'm not even worried about that. Just go play and not even think about that. I've signed on the dotted line, put it like that. I've got a contract. As y'all can see this smile, I've got a contract. I'm excited.''
Oden holds career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in 82 appearances. Hat tip: ProBasketballTalk