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Greg Oden returning to the NBA with Miami Heat

2:25 PM, Aug 3, 2013   |    comments
Injured player Greg Oden of the Portland Trail Blazers attends a game against the Indiana Pacers on March 13, 2012 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and condition of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: 2012 NBAE (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)
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(USA Today) -- Free-agent big man Greg Oden, who hasn't played since the 2009-10 season because of debilitating injuries to both knees, wants to give it another shot, and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat are willing to give him that chance.

Oden reached a two-year deal with the Heat, a person familiar with Oden's decision told USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the deal until it was officially announced. The deal is for the veteran's minimum, and the second year is a player option.

Oden had a conference call on Thursday with his agent, Mike Conley Sr., and a team of advisors, including Bill Duffy, the chairman and CEO of BDA Sports, the agency for which Conley works. He reached a decision sometime after that.

In the last few weeks, Oden met with or talked with the Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs.

It's a minimum investment with a potentially decent return. Oden is strong around the rim, and even if he provided a solid 10-12 minutes per game, he will be a worthwhile signing. At 7-0, 280 pounds, Oden gives Miami size and strength inside, if healthy.

One person who watched Oden work out told USA TODAY Sports that Oden was further along than expected when it came to agility, conditioning and jumping exercises. But the person also said Oden was limited in on-court basketball drills.

The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the workout.

Oden, who has played in just 82 games, was the No. 1 pick in 2007 draft by the Portland Trail Blazers, but missed the entire 2007-08 season after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee. Oden played in 61 games in 2008-09 and averaged 8.9 points and 7.0 rebounds.

But injury struck again early in the 2009-10 season. In his 21st game, Oden sustained a fractured left patella (kneecap) and missed the rest of the season. He hasn't played since. He was off to a strong start, too, averaging 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds in 23.9 minutes per game.

Oden underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee in November 2010 and has rehabbed and worked out to get himself in this position - for another shot, perhaps his last, at playing in the NBA.

USA Today

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