Oden Eyeing NBA Return; Heat, Others Interested

11:58am: Several teams, including the Heat, have expressed interest in signing Oden to a multiyear deal that begins this season, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. However, even if Oden signs during the 2012/13 season, he's unlikely to return to the court until 2013/14, says Windhorst. A multiyear contract that begins this season would allow him to continue his rehab with an NBA club.

9:20am: It has been more than three years since Greg Oden appeared in a regular-season NBA game, but the former first overall pick hasn't given up on his playing career yet. Mike Conley, Oden's former teammate at Ohio State and the son of Oden's agent Mike Conley Sr., tells Ric Bucher of 95.7 The Game (Sulia link) that the big man hopes to hit the free agent market and join an NBA team before the end of the 2012/13 season.

According to Conley, Oden is back in Columbus, taking classes and trying to work himself into playing shape. If Oden decides he isn't ready to return to the court by season's end, or if there isn't sufficient interest among NBA teams, the seven-footer intends to look ahead to next season and try again in the fall.

The last we heard from Oden himself, back in August, he was downplaying his chances of returning this season. However, he did admit that if he feels good and is healthy enough to come back, he'd "love to play this year." Oden underwent his most recent microfracture surgery on his left knee last March.

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