NBA free-agency tracker:

Oden aims for return; Heat, Cavs eye center

The SportsXchange

Former NBA center Greg Oden is hoping to return next season and the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat appear to be the front-runners to land the 7-footer who last played in 2009.

Injuries have derailed the career of Oden, the former No. 1 overall draft pick who left Ohio State in 2007 after one season, since he entered the NBA.

Oden has undergone three microfracture surgeries on his knees, including two on the left knee. The last surgery was in February 2012.

Oden, 25, may meet with the Heat next week in Miami, CBSSports.com reported. The Cavaliers and several other teams are monitoring Oden's progress in rehab.

The Heat likely would offer a minimum-salary contract, but a potential deal with the Cavs could be worth up to $4 million, according to the report.

Oden is in no hurry to rush back. He has spent time at Ohio State taking classes and is going back and forth between Columbus and his hometown Indianapolis for workouts.

"I don't know when, but I'm taking this year off. I'll play next year," Oden said Tuesday night before he watched Ohio State's 58-49 victory over Wisconsin in Columbus.

As for which team he plays next season, Oden doesn't have a preferred destination at this point.

"Right now, I'm not worrying about where," he said. "I'm only worried about my knee."

In five seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Oden was limited to 82 games, averaging 9.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks. The Trail Blazers waived Oden in March 2012.
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