Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com reports that Miami Heat president Pat Riley said this week that he plans to "closely monitor" the rehabilitation progress of former Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden.
One name to keep an eye on for next season: free agent Greg Oden. Riley recently visited with Oden and his agent Mike Conley Sr., in Miami. Riley said he'd "explore" signing the young, but injury-riddled, center.
"[Oden] is such a young player, and can be such a force, that you'd want to monitor him closely," Riley said. "And we will do that."
Chris Tomasson of FoxSportsFlorida.com reported recently that Mike Conley, Oden's agent, said there is mutual interest between the two-time defending champions and his client.
Oden's agent, Mike Conley, told FOX Sports Florida by phone Friday that the free-agent center remains very interested in signing with the Heat this summer and the feeling is mutual. ... "The Heat need some size, that's not a secret," Conley said. "Whether it's in a backup role or whatever, he could help them. I know they're interested in him and he's interested in them."
Other teams in the mix for Oden include Cleveland, San Antonio, Charlotte and Boston. Along with the Heat, Oden, who played at Ohio State, has most been linked with the Cavaliers.
"He's doing great. I think he could be ready for the regular-season opener," Conley said. "I'm not sure he'd be ready to play significant minutes. But it would depend on whether the team that he went to wanted him to play right away or not."
Earlier this year, Oden was linked to continued interest in an NBA comeback with the Heat and he visited with the Boston Celtics back in February. Back in December, it was reported that Oden has lost significant weight as he rehabilitates from his latest round of knee surgeries. Also in December, Blazers forward Nicolas Batum said Oden still wants to play in the NBA.
Oden said last year that he would become a gym teacher if he's not able to return to the NBA. Mark Titus, who has known Oden since high school, wrote a lengthy piece on Oden that discussed his time in Portland. Titus discussed that interview in multiple radio interviews and podcasts. Titus also wrote a book that discussed his friendship with Oden.
Oden underwent microfracture surgery on his left knee and arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in February 2012. In May 2012, he underwent Orthokine treatment on both of his knees. He hasn't played in an NBA game since December 2009.
Oden, 25, holds career averages of 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game in 82 appearances.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter