Injury-prone center Greg Oden was the No. 1 pick when the Portland Trailblazers signed him out of Ohio State University in the 2007 NBA draft -- one above Kevin Durant -- but his knees have kept him off the court for all but 82 games in the course of his NBA career.
Now the rumor mill is starting back up as speculation increases that Oden, who hasn't played a single pro game since December 2009, may be making a comeback, and that teams including the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks are reportedly showing interest in signing him, though he will reportedly spend the rest of the 2012-2013 season in rehabilitation for persistent knee injuries.
The newest rumor comes via the Miami Herald, which reported Tuesday that sports agent Mike Conley Sr. said Oden is slated to meet with Heat president Pat Riley within the next two weeks.
Oden, 25, has had a rough bout of knee injuries, surgeries and scares, and that has made him a lightning rod of controversy whenever possible comeback teams are floated. But he's a super-talented, seven-foot-plus center in a league with scant few elite big men, so though his career very well may be over his name is never out of the news for long as teams are willing to spend time and energy watching him throughout his lengthy recovery.
The Cavs are another name being kicked around in conversations about Oden's options if he were to return to the pros. CBS Sports reports that though the Heat are probably only willing to pay the veteran's minimum salary for Oden, the Cavaliers may be willing to pay almost $4 million. The Celtics are another name being bandied about, a source told CBS Sports, but it appears that Oden "is leaning towards" Miami or Cleveland.
But the Celtics and Mavs are both keeping an eye on Oden, according to Fox Sports Ohio, which reports in a story called "NBA Report: Oden signing draws near" that Danny Ainge, president of basketball operations for the Celtics, told WEEI Radio in Boston that the team is watching Oden.
"We're monitoring Greg, like all NBA teams are, but we have not attempted to sign him," Ainge told WEEI. "But we are monitoring him and having (conversations) with his people just to see where he is."
CBS Sports went on to give some detail about Oden's physical condition. His last surgery was in February 2012, and he is working out in Ohio and Indiana, CBS Sports reported, and appears to be on pace to play in a 2013-2014 season-opening game if he is signed to a team.
Oden has notched an average of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 points per game over his severely-limited tenure in the NBA.