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If the Miami Heat are missing one thing at this point, it is a center who can match up with the likes of Dwight Howard. Miami might still try to add a center to its roster this offseason, and former top draft pick Greg Oden would not mind filling that role.
Oden's agent told Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Thursday, "Obviously, if the Heat wanted him, who wouldn’t want to play for the Heat?"
Oden was the Portland Trail Blazers' top pick in the 2007 NBA draft, but he never lived up to the lofty expectations placed upon him. Until Portland waived him in March, he appeared in just 82 games during his five-year stint, averaging 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks a game.
Oden would come with major health concerns. He missed the 2007-08 season due to microfracture surgery on his right knee. He also missed most of the 2009-10 season after having the same surgery on his left knee, and did not play at all in each of the last two seasons due to complications in his recovery. He underwent a third microfracture surgery this winter.
In May, Oden said he planned on sitting out the 2012-13 season to complete his rehab, but his agent said Thursday, "(Oden) called me, and he was kind of excited."
"I think he's motivated," he continued. "He wants to play. He had said he wanted to take this season off but he's backed off from that ... He's open to playing this season. I think he will play this season."
The Heat used Chris Bosh at the center position during the NBA Finals, and the team's recent additions of Rashard Lewis (a forward) and Ray Allen (a guard) suggests the Heat are content to keep Bosh at center, and surround the Big Three with talented wing players.
Joel Anthony and draft pick Justin Hamilton are the only centers on Miami's roster at the moment. The undersized Anthony is normally a stout defender, but lacks the scoring ability of a marquee center. Hamilton is a longer-term development project, and the Heat might not even keep him on the roster after fall training camp.
Ronny Turiaf, Eddy Curry, and Dexter Pittman, the other centers on last year's Heat team, are all free agents, and it is not certain whether any will return to the team in 2012-13.
It is not clear that the Heat even want Oden, but considering the fact that Miami can only offer the veteran minimum to any free agents left on the market, getting a former first-overall pick at a steep discount might not be a bad outcome.
Miami attempted to lure Houston center Marcus Camby via a sign-and-trade deal, but Camby opted for a similar deal worth more money with the New York Knicks earlier this week.