A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

Why I’m no fan of the Greg Oden signing for the Heat

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Greg Oden wallpaper

Greg Oden wallpaper (Photo credit: A Stern Warning)

Miami won the take a flier on Greg Oden sweepstakes – and at a cheap, minimum salary price considering his demand from other teams.

The move has been favorably received. Why not right? Best case scenario Miami becomes unbeatable, worst case it’s just an end of the bench roster spot burned.

I’m not as enthused.

Because James Jones, Rashard Lewis and Joel Anthony are on guaranteed deals next season, if they’re not waived that’s already 3 roster spots to players the Heat shouldn’t want to play. Thus the opportunity cost of Oden’s roster spot, is likely a player nearing on, if not in the rotation. Norris Cole, Shane Battier and Udonis Haslem are also not stellar options in the rotation and can be replaced by the right signing. If the Heat signed a big like Chris Wilcox, Ivan or Anthony Tolliver or a perimeter player like Daniel Gibson, Beno Udrih, Delonte West, Mike James, Daequon Cook, Ronnie Brewer, it would not be a surprise if they were in the rotation in the playoffs, before even accounting for the possibility of an injury bringing them into play.

The Heat still have 2 roster spots open after Oden to sign players like the above, such as to replace Mike Miller’s shooting and live body on the wing – but it’s clear that Oden taking a roster spot, means a free agent is left out.

It may not seem like a world changing difference for Chris Wilcox to be called on in a playoff game instead of Joel Anthony, or for Daniel Gibson to replace Norris Cole’s minutes if more productive, but what if it is? The Heat needed every point against the Spurs to defend their title. A few possessions the Heat’s last three wins in the Finals going the other way would’ve changed the result. And the 9th and 10th players in a rotation can make that small difference.

As for his health, it’s a clear longshot. He has to go from a player whose health has prevented a GP in nearly 4 years, to his health staying at least afloat for the next 9 or 10 months until the end of the 2014 playoffs. Whether he can play in November or January is irrelevant to the Heat, only if he’s healthy at the end. There’s a chance Oden is there in the playoffs, but it’s a hail mary throw with a much greater chance of being batted down. In the Heat’s position there was nothing wrong with a 3 yard shovel pass instead.

A problem for the Heat is that becoming a lot better next year may not be worth more than becoming a little better, if in both cases it leads to the title. But becoming a little worse could mean everything if it costs them the title. So is taking the risk of becoming a little worse for the chance to be a lot better, really worth it for the Heat? It would be for the Dallas Mavericks, for whom the upside of Oden could bridge the gap to contention. But for the Heat it may be jumping at a massive upside they don’t even need. You don’t get a bigger trophy for easily winning the title than narrowly winning it.

Oden is a more fun and exciting signing than a player like Chris Wilcox or Ivan Johnson, but I’d side against it being the smart signing. But I’m cheering for Oden to make this post look foolish.

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Written by jr.

August 7, 2013 at 10:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

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