Greg Oden says he signed with Heat because of LeBron James

USA TODAY Sports

Playing with the world's best player was a big reason why Greg Oden decided to sign with the Miami Heat.

Greg Oden is back in the NBA, agreeing to a two-year contract with the Miami Heat on Friday evening after a drawn out recruiting process that included offers from at least five other teams. That's notable for a player who hasn't played in the league since 2009, but the memory of Oden as one of the most prized big man prospects in recent memory still lingers for teams desperate to add size.

Oden is just 25 years old, but has already had three microfracture surgeries on his knees. He's reportedly moving as well as he has in a long time, and the Heat saw a low-risk, high-reward opportunity that was simply too much for Oden to pass up. Oden spoke with Grantland's Mark Titus about the decision to sign with Miami and said it came down to fit and personnel, mostly the guy wearing No. 6.

"Obviously the chance to play with the best player in the world and compete for a championship was a big selling point," Oden told me. "But more than that, what I really liked was how they thought I could really add something to their team. They’ve won back-to-back championships without me, so for them to pursue me as hard as they did meant a lot, especially given all that I’ve gone through."

Miami was exposed inside against Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals last season and the addition of Oden offers hope the Heat can compete in the paint. It's far from a sure bet Oden will be able to regain that form that once made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 draft ahead of Kevin Durant, but his size could immediately bolster the Heat's front line should he be able to stay on the court.

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