Cameron Larkin .com

Money or an @NBA c’ship ring? Oden to decide on future

2007 number one draft pick Greg Oden has an immense decision to make. Does he take the money or switch allegiances to have a genuine shot at winning a championship ring?

The 7’0” former Ohio State University star has a one-year qualifying offer from his current team the Portland Trail Blazers for $8.9 million sitting in front of him, however talk around the league has the Wade and LeBron Miami Heat show sending out strong signals that they want the big man.

Oden has had one of the worst starts to an NBA career. After his selection in the draft, he underwent microfracture surgery of the knee in September 2007 which saw him sitting on the sidelines for the entire season. Following that, Oden suffered an injury to his other knee forcing him to extend his inactive status.

Oden is scheduled to meet with doctors this week to undertake an examination on his knees. If he gets the thumbs up, the big man will be able to recommence contact practices.

The promising centre has a career average of 9.4 points per game, 7.3 rebounds per game and 1.4 blocks per game.

Many may see Oden’s decision as easy. Take the extra $3 million as the Heat could only offer in the range of $5 million. However, with Heat President Pat Riley in charge, anything can happen.

Known for his highly effective influencing skills, Riley will attempt to persuade Oden to take a pay cut and join a team comprising Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller. Interestingly, all took a drop in money to build a championship contending team, as did Bibby who left $6 million on the table elsewhere.

Although the Heat possesses two of the best guards in the world, the centre position is where they lack that championship killer punch and this is where Riley’s focus lies.

Big Z retired after the finals series and Dampier and Magloire became free agents. In 2010-11, the Heat had the oldest centre rotation in the NBA. A time of change is essential.

Last year’s second round selection, Dexter Pittman, is an ongoing project for Miami and provides a portion of youth. The other option being thrown up is Nene – he however is also attracting strong interest from other organisations and much more money.

Despite still being a young talent, bringing Oden on board is a risk due to his past injuries. Time will tell however. If Riley and the Heat are successful, they will be in a great position to have another crack at the title.

The NBA 2011-12 season tips off in less than three weeks from today. Follow on Twitter @InnerSanctum for all the latest NBA news and previews.

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