Originally posted on Fox Sports Florida  |  Last updated 7/12/12
Injury-riddled Greg Oden could be returning to the NBA this season. Thats the word from Odens agent, Mike Conley, who got a call earlier this week from Oden. He said his client has changed his tune from wanting to take this season off. (Oden) called me, and he was kind of excited, Conley said Thursday in a phone interview with FOX Sports Florida. I think hes motivated . He wants to play. He had said he wanted to take this season off, but hes backed off from that . Hes open to playing this season. I think he will play this season. Oden, the star-crossed center who was taken No. 1 in the 2007 NBA draft by Portland ahead of No. 2 Kevin Durant, hasnt played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009. Out of 394 possible games in his NBA career, hes missed 312. Oden has had five surgeries on both his knees since entering the NBA, including two surgeries last February, one being his third microfracture procedure. He was waived by the Trail Blazers last March, making him a free agent. Oden was quoted in a Grantland article last May about his plan to take the entire 2012-13 season off. But Oden told Conley this week about the change in his thinking. Hes starting to work out, Conley said of Oden, who was recently cleared for workouts, feeling better about his situation. Hes excited. You can tell hes getting antsy. At the end of the day, I want him to finish out his NBA career. Hes still pretty young (24). Conley, who said the former Ohio State star is committed to regular workouts this summer in Columbus, Ohio, said theres still no timetable as to what point next season he believes Oden will be able to play. He said seven NBA teams, which he declined to name, have been keeping in regular touch with him, but Conley doesnt anticipate it will be until the fall before there are any serious negotiations. We want to get to the point where hes more healthy and can show teams what he can do (in workouts), Conley said. Theres still no timetable, and thats the beauty of him being on his own. He doesnt have to give anybody a timetable.'' Conley said he has not heard from the Miami Heat at all since Oden was waived. But he said Oden has interest in the Heat if they ever were to be interested. Obviously, if the Heat wanted him, who wouldnt want to play for the Heat? Conley said of the defending champions. That goes without saying. They have roster spots and a need (at center). But its too early to say about where he might play. Conley said Oden splits his time between his hometown of Indianapolis and Columbus. Conley said hes now taking summer classes at Ohio State, which he led to the NCAA title game in his only season there of 2006-07. Obviously, Oden has had plenty of down moments due to all his injuries. But Conley said Oden never has talked about the possibility of retiring. For now, Conley said Oden is as excited as hes been in a long time. He pointed out it was Oden who called him unsolicited to express a willingness to play this season. Hes going to sign somewhere, Conley said. Hes going to get healthy and be coming back. Chris Tomasson can be reached at christomasson@christomasson or on Twitter @christomasson
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