Originally written on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 8/2/13

Center Greg Oden, a former Ohio State Buckeye and No. 1 NBA Draft pick, will sign with the Miami Heat, according to multiple ESPN reports on Friday night. The drawn-out recruiting process for the 25-year-old has been the talk of the NBA of late, as it extended into the usually dull free agency month of August. Drafted originally by the Portland Trailblazers in 2007, the Indianapolis native only has 82 career NBA games to his credit, with the last one taking place in Dec. 2009. He averaged 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in 22.1 minutes per game in those contests. Before eventually signing fellow 25-year-old free agent center Andrew Bynum, the Cleveland Cavaliers had been one of the early rumored possible destinations for Oden. In the end, it appears he decided to sign up to play with the Heat on a two-year deal including a player option for the second season, spurring offers from multiple Western Conference teams, such as New Orleans and Dallas. In Miami, Oden will play for the best team contending for his services and also will have a clear path to possible playing time, if healthy. Despite the fact the franchise has made three straight Finals, Joel Anthony is the only natural center to receive over 1,200 regular season minutes in this span. Forward Chris Bosh has played extended positions at the position, especially in the playoffs. As opposed to drafting big man Nerlens Noel in the draft — as many expected and hoped — the Cavs decided to take Canadian forward Anthony Bennett at No. 1. They followed up that surprise selection with the free agent signings of forward Earl Clark, guard Jarrett Jack and Bynum. It was an untraditional route but one the front office hopes will lead to avoiding the lottery in 2014. [Related: The Diff: NBA conference imbalance and the East playoffs]

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