- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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There are growing indications that the New Orleans Pelicans are going to be a factor in the Oden chase as well.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that the Pelicans have been booked for a Wednesday sitdown with Oden and will also get serious consideration from the former No. 1 overall pick as he decides where to relaunch his career after being sidelined since early in the 2009-10 season.
The Pelicans, sources said, are building their pitch around the fact that going to New Orleans would enable Oden to make his comeback far away from the media glare and with no immediate pressure to cope with as he tries again to bounce back from the knee issues that have limited the 25-year-old to just 82 career regular-season games since being drafted in 2007.
The presence of former Blazers assistant coach Monty Williams as the head man in New Orleans -- someone who already knows Oden well -- is seen as another element working in the Pelicans' favor along with the fact that their young core of players are all in Oden's age range.
As ESPN.com reported Monday, Oden is scheduled to have face-to-face meetings this week with the Sacramento Kings and Mavs in addition to the Pelicans. Sources say that the Kings, though, are long-shot contenders when it comes to actually signing Oden and are thus planning a hard push for free-agent center Timofey Mozgov if rebuffed by Oden.
The Mavericks, sources say, were scheduled to meet Monday with Oden and are still holding out hope of signing both him and Samuel Dalembert to fill their center void after missing out on top target Dwight Howard.
The Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs have been regarded as leading contenders for Oden's services from the outset of free agency. That's especially true in Miami's case after Heat president Pat Riley hosted Oden for a two-day visit earlier this year before Oden's comeback, through workouts back home in Indianapolis or at Ohio State, progressed to the serious stage it's in now.
Oden was the top overall pick in the '07 NBA draft out of Ohio State, selected one spot ahead of Kevin Durant. Yet thanks to his numerous knee injuries, Oden hasn't played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009, and was forced to undergo his microfracture knee surgery in February 2012.