Greg Oden will host three teams this week as the former No. 1 overall pick nears a decision on where he'll launch his NBA comeback, according to sources with knowledge of the free-agent center's plans.
Sources say that the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks -- which had face-to-face meetings with Oden last week -- also remain in contention for the 7-footer's services. But the Heat and Spurs established themselves as the front-runners to land Oden last month and, according to one source close to the process, remain the co-favorites to sign him.
The pursuit of Oden was accelerated last week in Las Vegas when the 25-year-old sat down with representatives from the Mavericks and Kings. A scheduled meeting with the Pelicans in Las Vegas, sources said, was in the process of being rescheduled for this week.
Oden has played just 82 career games in the NBA after being selected by Portland with the top overall pick in the 2007 draft. He hasn't appeared in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009, due to numerous knee problems and underwent his third microfracture knee surgery in February 2012.
Miami has actually been considered a leading contender for Oden for months after Heat president Pat Riley hosted him for a two-day visit earlier this year. That was even before Oden's comeback, through workouts back home in Indianapolis or at Ohio State, progressed to the serious stage it has reached now.
The Mavericks, sources say, continue to try to press for Oden even after last week's signing of Samuel Dalembert. The Mavs have pitched Dallas -- under the auspices of longtime Team USA trainer Casey Smith -- as the ideal launching pad for his comeback.
The Pelicans, sources said, are building their pitch around the fact going to New Orleans would enable Oden to make his comeback far away from the media glare and with no immediate pressure as he tries again to bounce back from the knee issues that have plagued him since college.
The presence of former Blazers assistant coach Monty Williams, who already knows Oden well, as the head man in New Orleans is seen as another element working in the Pelicans' favor, along with the fact their young core of players are all in Oden's age range.
Sources have maintained since last week that the Kings are long-shot contenders for Oden.