The Heat will activate center Greg Oden for a Wednesday night game against the Wizards in Washington, marking the first time that the former No. 1 overall pick will suit up for the two-time defending champions this season.
Team president Pat Riley made the announcement Wednesday afternoon, according to the Sun-Sentinel. Miami has a spot available on its active roster after trading seldom-used center Joel Anthony to the Celtics in a three-team trade that brought Warriors guard Toney Douglas to the Heat. Chris "Birdman" Andersen is also expected to miss Wednesday's game with a knee injury, according to Bleacher Report.
Oden has not played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009, when he suffered a broken patella in his left knee as a member of the Blazers. If he sees court time on Wednesday, it would mark his first regular season action in 1,502 days. Oden played four minutes during a preseason game against the Pelicans back in November, dunking the ball on his first touch, but he has been on the inactive list for the entire 2013-14 season as he continues to rehabilitate his knees.
"I’m happy I’m able to walk off this court," Oden told Sun Sports after his preseason debut. "I’m able to play another day.”
The 25-year-old seven-footer was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA draft out of Ohio State, selected one spot ahead of Thunder All-Star forward Kevin Durant. He appeared in 82 games for the Blazers over five years before he was released in 2012 due to a series of knee injuries. Oden signed a one-year, veteran's minimum contract with the Heat in August. He holds career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.
After being released by the Blazers in March 2012, Oden has been rehabilitating from multiple knee surgeries, including a second microfracture surgery on his left knee in February 2012 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 in August 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.”