CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman reported today that former No. 1 pick Greg Oden "is hoping" to visit Pat Riley next week. Goodman said that Oden is leaning towards attempting a comeback with either the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers, who can offer the oft-injured center up to $4 million. Miami could only offer a contract at the minimum salary.
Oden's agent, Mike Conley Sr. confirmed that Oden will meet with Riley, but only for initial medical tests.
Sources have linked Oden to the Heat several times, most recently a few weeks ago. The fact that Oden will now make a trip to Miami for tests appears to amount to more than talk, though. Pat Riley saw Eddy Curry -- another center trying to make a comeback -- work out in Chicago in April 2011 and then invited him to a pre-lockout minicamp, where he competed against Dexter Pittman. Perhaps Riley is undergoing this same process with Oden. The Curry experiment did not work at all, and it's naive to say that Oden will be healthy for next season, let alone emerge as a serviceable player. No player has ever returned from three microfracture knee surgeries, and Oden underwent his third such operation last February. But with Miami already heavily in the luxury tax and even mediocre centers getting generous contracts these days, Riley has no choice but to look for options in the draft or in the scrapheap of free agency. As bad as it seems for Oden, it may have a better chance of success than the Eddy Curry experiment.