Heat Scout Tim Hardaway Thinks Greg Oden Is Missing Link to 3rd Straight Title

Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistJuly 29, 2013

DALLAS - FEBRUARY 04:  Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers during play against the Dallas Mavericks on February 4, 2009 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Greg Oden has officially come full circle.

First considered a future NBA superstar, then a monstrous draft bust, Oden is now the missing link to the Miami Heat's third straight championship.

Per Chris Tomasson of Fox Sports Florida, the Heatles remain committed to signing the oft-injured big man, their interest being one of the reasons they didn't aggressively pursue the soon-to-be 40-year-old Marcus Camby.

Foregoing the opportunity to woo an aging center can barely be classified as a sacrifice, but it does show how invested in Oden Miami really is.

Team scout—and former playerTim Hardaway is especially enamored by the 7'0" prodigy-turned-disappointment.

"If we get Greg Oden, I think we will win a third (straight) title," Hardaway told Tomasson.

That actually happened.

Hardaway actually posited that the mammoth-sized Oden, who hasn't played in a game since December of 2009, is basically the final piece to a three-peat-seeking puzzle.

Although ESPN's Marc Stein reported Oden has been moving "quite well" during his workouts, that doesn't change the fact he's nearly four years removed from action. Declaring that he will push the reigning champions over the top is beyond bold.

Then again, it's also what Miami does.

The Heat rested their low-post hopes on Chris Andersen more than halfway through the season last year, assuming he would provide the rebounding and defensive punch that would help ensure they took home the Larry O'Brien Trophy for the second year in a row.

Andersen did exactly what the Heat expected him to do (and more), and Miami has another title to show for it. Seeing the Heat, or rather Hardaway, place similar value in Oden is hardly surprising.

Luckily for Miami, Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears says that Oden appears most "intrigued" by the Heat and New Orleans Pelicans.

To be sure, Miami doesn't need Oden to remain a contender. Sans Mike Miller, the team is still favored to win yet again. Housing LeBron James will have that effect.

The Heat, however, finished dead last in rebounds per game last season (38.6). A little extra size could then go a long way.

A long, long, long way if you ask Hardaway.