The Greg Oden derby is heading to the home stretch.
Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday that Oden will decide Friday on a team to sign with as a free agent. The Miami Heat are very interested in the center and are one of six teams in the mix.
Oden’s agent, Mike Conley Sr., had told FOX Sports Florida on July 16 that Oden would choose a team in a few weeks so a possible timetable on Oden has been known. Conley did not return a message Thursday seeking comment.
Oden, the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, hasn’t played in an NBA game since December 2009 while battling knee injuries. But he is said to be looking good lately in workouts, including one watched last week in his hometown of Indianapolis by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer.
Heat president Pat Riley has spoken this summer about his team’s interest in Oden. The most the Heat can offer is their $3.183 taxpayer mid-level exception.
Other teams trying to sign Oden are New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio, Sacramento and Atlanta. Conley has told FOX Sports Florida several times about the mutual interest between the Heat and his client.
“Obviously, they’ve got a need there,” Conley recently said about the Heat needing a center. “It’s a situation where they probably can’t go out and get a top player (with the money they have), but they can take a chance on somebody like Greg and his upside. The exposure (of playing for the Heat) would be good for Greg. He could work his way back into his game. I think Miami is a good situation.”
Although it’s hard to say how much Oden could contribute next season, the Heat clearly need help inside. They were able to win a second straight NBA title in June despite having some problems with opposing big men, most notably Indiana center Roy Hibbert in a seven-game Miami win in the Eastern Conference finals.
“If we get Greg Oden, I think we will win a third (straight) title,” Heat scout Tim Hardaway last weekend told FOX Sports Florida.
The decision soon should be known on whether Miami does get Oden.