Mavs runners-up to Heat for Greg Oden

DALLAS -- Dwight Howard wasn’t the only big-name big man that the Mavericks tried to sign this summer.

The Mavs were also in the mix for Greg Oden, the oft-injured No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft who ended up signing with the Miami Heat. In fact, Oden said his decision came down to Dallas or Miami.

“It’s just a good organization,” Oden said of the Mavs. “I know the training staff and I know they’re really good. Their track record shows it. That was the main thing.”

Mavs head athletic trainer Casey Smith, who also works with Team USA, is immensely respected around the NBA. The Mavs' recruiting pitch to Oden included a detailed plan of how Smith’s staff would help his continued recovery from multiple microfracture knee surgeries and mentioned how the Mavs’ training staff helped Tyson Chandler re-establish himself as a high-caliber starting center after arriving in Dallas with an injury-prone tag.

Oden, who made his Heat debut Jan. 15 and has played in nine games for Miami, opted to go to the two-time defending champions in large part because he wanted a chance to win a title.

“I’m happy about that,” said Oden, who has 23 points, 21 rebounds and six blocks in 73 minutes this season. “I’m on this team and we’re still working towards that. That’s the goal and that’s the plan. For them, they want to get three. For me, I want to get one.”

Oden has found a good fit in Miami, but he’s only under contract with the Heat for the rest of the season, having signed a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum. With the Mavs sure to be searching for center depth again this summer, it wouldn’t be surprising if they engage in conversations with the 7-footer again.