Oden to choose between Heat, Spurs, Mavs, Pelicans and Kings

December 5, 2009.

That is the last time Greg Oden appeared in an NBA game. All the rumors and reports since then have ranged from retirement to annual comebacks for the former first overall pick in 2007 by Portland. But this time a return to the league inches closer with each day as probably the most anticipated comeback story centers around Oden and three teams – Miami, New Orleans and Sacramento according to ESPN.com.

The report explains that the three teams will send representatives this week to watch Oden work out in person, with San Antonio and Dallas also interested based on prior meetings with Oden’s camp.

Depending how those meetings go with the Heat, Hornets and the Kings, Oden’s comeback story could have a new chapter within the next week, and the arduous process that truly began last year around this time when Oden and his five knee surgeries claimed he would sit out the 2012-13 season and instead focus on rehabbing while also taking classes to finish up his degree at Ohio State.

Following the Blazers waiving him last March, Oden stayed true to that word despite talk of signing multiyear deals with everyone from Miami to Cleveland to Dallas.

Knowing Oden’s history with injuries, Mike Conley, Sr. (Oden’s agent) and Oden have remained patient with the process of Oden returning to the floor and that is for good reason. After everything Oden has been through in his brief but banged-up NBA career it is hard not to root for his story and success, but this really all comes down to Oden staying healthy.

As the ESPN.com report details, New Orleans appears the front-runner despite the Heat’s championship pedigree.

The Pelicans will not only use the relationship between Oden and head coach Monty Williams — who formerly worked with Oden while serving as an assistant coach in Portland — but also the sales pitch that the big fella can stay out of the media spot light playing for a small market team like New Orleans.  The Oden-Williams connection is certainly solid for sure. But suggesting Oden can dodge media attention by signing with a small market…well, ask Oden how handling small market media (or any interviews regarding his knee) during his career in Portland worked out.

Still, whereas the Kings appear the long-shot, Mavs could use a big man,and the Heat and Spurs offer title contention as their ploy to lure Oden, New Orleans just might be the right place at the right time for Oden to return to the game.