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Former first-overall draft pick Greg Oden will pursue a revival of his basketball career next season, and the Miami Heat are reportedly intrigued by the possibility of teaming him up with the Big Three.
ESPN.com reported Thursday that Oden will not return until the 2013-14 season at the earliest, but the Heat "are at the front of the line" of teams pursuing Oden.
Oden was selected first overall by the Portland in the 2007 NBA Draft, one spot ahead of 2011-12 scoring champ Kevin Durant. Waived by Portland in March 2012, he appeared in just 82 games during his five-year stint, averaging 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks a game.
Oden's agent told Fox Sports last year that he would be happy to play for the Heat if Miami would have him. Currently, Oden is rehabbing his left knee, which underwent microfracture surgery in February, and taking classes at Ohio State, where he attended college for one year before turning pro.
But multiple teams are reportedly considering signing Oden to a multiyear deal before the end of this season, according to ESPN. This could push him out of Miami's price range. The Heat already have nearly $80 million committed to 2013-14 salary, and going above the $90 million threshold would trigger very punitive luxury tax penalties.
Miami tried to sign Oden before the 2011-12 season, but he opted for a one-year extension with Portland for $8.9 million, well outside of the Heat's price range.
This would not be the first time Heat president Pat Riley takes a flier on a player. Last season the Heat signed center Eddy Curry, who played sparingly during Miami's championship run. Curry spent the entire 2010-11 season out of the NBA, but appeared in 14 games for Miami last season, averaging 2 points and 1 rebound per game.
Also on Thursday, the Heat signed center Josh Harrellson to a 10-day contract. He was waived on Monday. Doing so ensured that the remainder of his 2013 salary would not be guaranteed. It is the second signing by the Heat this week, after signing forward Jarvis Varnado to a 10-day contract on Wednesday.