« How Mike Miller was scammed by a con man who duped three Heat players; Spoelstra gets extension; Fins, UM, Marlins | Main | Postscripts, reaction from Dolphins' loss at New Orleans; Heat notes »

Chatter from Heat media day: Oden, Beasley, LeBron, Wade and more

Tidbits from Heat media day:

### The joy, the sense of hope, radiated from Greg Oden’s face as he walked around the AmericanAirlines Arena floor on Monday, doing interview after interview.

After battling depression and enduring multiple knee surgeries that sidelined him for 3 ½ years, Oden on Monday pronounced his knees healthy --- “the best it’s felt in three years” - and said he could play short minutes in a game today if needed.

But the Heat will be extremely cautious with Oden, who hasn’t played in a game since December 2009. And Oden is comfortable with that.

“There is no timetable,” coach Erik Spoelstra said when asked when he might play in a game. “If it happens two months from now, if it happens in three months, who knows? We’re going in with an open mind. No expectations.”   

Oden has been doing some on-court work, mostly stationary shooting. “I’ve been shooting a lot,” he said. “I’ve been out there twice running up and down with the guys, and the timing wasn’t there yet. Three years away, I’ve to get that back and get back to being comfortable on the court.”

Oden said he realistically could play in the preseason and in the Heat’s regular-season opener Oct. 29 against Chicago. But that seems ambitious, based on Spoelstra’s comments.

“I would like to play as soon as possible, but that’s up to the trainers,” he said. “I hope it’s sometime soon. I can’t predict what they’re going to say. They know what’s best. I’m anxious. I know I can’t overdo it. I want to make sure I can play and finish the year. I just know I feel good. I would love to play first game, a couple preseason minutes. I understand I won’t be playing 20 minutes a game.”

Though Oden is at the arena five hours a day, the Heat is being cautious with his workload.

“When I go up and down, it’s only a couple minutes,” he said. “When I work out, it’s only 30 minutes. They don’t want to overdo it to the point where my knee blows up. They want to keep it where my knee feels good when I stop working out.”

Oden has dropped 40 pounds since last summer, to 278, and said his goal is to get to 265-270.

“With all the running and knee problems, lighter is better,” he said. “Last time I was less than 270, I was running up and down the court like a deer. I look like a professional athlete now.”

Oden said he sometimes watches tape of his 21-game stretch in Portland late in 2009 --- when he averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 23.9 minutes --- “to see what I was doing, to see if I can get myself back to that. It will be a work in progress.”

Oden said he bonded with Spoelstra when they spent time together in Indianapolis in August, and Oden was impressed that Spoelstra knew more about his rehabilitation than most.

“They’re a good team. It’s a winning atmosphere. Who wouldn’t be a part of that?” he said. “Every morning you see the sun. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”

He cracked that it’s difficult to go under the radar “when I’m the biggest guy on the team and look like LeBron.”

Still only 25, Oden said, “I have a lot to prove to myself. It’s been a long road for me. I’ve been re-habbing for three years. When I am able to go in that first game, even if I just play five minutes, just to be able to end the game and be healthy, that’s going to be a big step for me. Success to me is walking on the court and walking off healthy.”

### LeBron James said he would not address next summer’s free agency at all this season. “I owe it to my organization not to get involved in it.”

### Dwyane Wade said something encouraging: “You have concern when you feel people want to go elsewhere. I don’t think nobody is looking to go elsewhere.”

### Spoelstra said of next summer’s free agency – when the Big Three call all opt out of their contracts: “We’ll address that, but we don’t need to belabor it. Our guys aren’t naïve to the business. We respect players’ opportunity to be free when they earn that opportunity. We’ve been conditioned for this type of moment more than any other team. We have to let go of what we did last year and not become obsessed with the future, because it’s unknown.”

### LeBron -- during his news conference -- was funny, relaxed and very comfortable in his skin. He joked he hadn’t accomplished his goals yet, cracking, “not until [we win] 11, 12, 13, 14.” (Of course, that was a self-deprecating crack about his much-discussed comment from the Heat’s 2010 signing party in which he cracked he wanted to win "not four, not five...") James added: “Just messing around.”

### Other highlights from LeBron: “I know you guys are tired of hearing me say this, but I got better. I’m a better play than last year in every aspect.”… He said the Eastern Conference is clearly better; even beyond the Bulls, Pacers, Knicks and Brooklyn, he also cited Washington and Detroit. “It will be tougher. If we’re not healthy, it’s going to be tough.” But “if we stay as close to 100 percent as possible, we’re going to be fine.”… He said of Oden and Michael Beasley: “Both players are unbelievably talented. I’m excited to have them here.”…

He has worked on his free throw shooting and said his goal is shoot 80 percent. He was 77.7 percent last season…..

LeBron reiterated “I want to be the greatest of all time. That’s my motivation. I’m far away from it. I see the light.”… He said Wade is “hungry to show why he’s one of the best two guards to play this game.”

### Beasley said he’s “older, wiser, not as carefree. I’ve learned to be a better person.” He said “talent wise, I’m where I need to be,” but needs to work on “the extra plays, the hustle plays.” He said: “I come here knowing this team doesn’t need me.”

### Udonis Haslem said he is going to closely watch Beasley. He said Frank Martin, his former coach at Miami High and Beasley’s former coach at Kansas State, told Haslem to take care of Beasley when Miami drafted him.

“I didn’t do the job I hoped to the first time,” Haslem said. “I want to get it right this time…. I’ve always felt a special place for Beas. He has never been a bad locker room guy or a bad teammate or a problem around the team. I am fully confident he will get it right this time.”

### Wade cracked he wants a healthy season and remainder of his career "and let you guys decide how long it takes to get to the Hall of Fame."

### Wade said: "I'm the second option. Let's point blank say it. I'm a pretty good second option for this team." He added: "I have to be way more efficient than I've ever been." 

### Spoelstra, on his contract extension: “I feel fortunate and grateful. You want to work with people you trust, people that have your back, not just after you win but also after times like 9-8 a couple years ago.”

### Spoelstra said he’s “excited” about Juwan Howard joining the team as an assistant coach. “Juwan could probably still play a year or two or three.”