By Marc Stein and Jeff Goodman| ESPN.com
Greg Oden, the former No. 1 overall pick who hasn't played in an NBA game since 2009, will sign a contract to play for the Miami Heat the center told ESPN.com.
The deal is for a minimum of two years with a player option in the second year, sources told ESPN.com.
Miami had been considered the favorite to land Oden. Heat president Pat Riley has been personally recruiting Oden since before the end of the 2012-13 regular season. And, of course, Miami is coming off winning an NBA title with a lineup that includes Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh among others.
Oden said it was a "big deciding factor" that Heat officials made it clear to him that he "wouldn't be needed as much early in the season" as he works his way back from more than three years out of the league.
"When I had a conversation with Coach (Erik) Spoelstra and hearing how much he knew about the training stuff that I was already doing, it kind of made me feel like they know what's best for me," Oden said in a phone interview.
"I'm not going to sit here and say I'm 100 percent," Oden added. "I am moving (well) and I am feeling good, but I have a lot of work to do."
He told ESPN.com that James recruited him via text message, in addition to Spoelstra.
Oden has worked out for several teams over the past few weeks. His final three teams were believed to be Miami, San Antonio and Dallas. Oden worked last week in Indianapolis and five teams watched him. They presented offers earlier this week that detailed not only financial specifics but also each club's medical plans for overseeing the 25-year-old Oden's ongoing recovery from a multitude of knee problems.
New Orleans, Sacramento and Atlanta were the other known suitors for Oden.
Oden hasn't played in an NBA game since Dec. 5, 2009, and underwent his third career microfracture surgery as recently as February 2012. He was selected No. 1 overall by Portland in 2007 but has played in just 82 career NBA games thanks to injury woes. In 21 games in the 2009-10 season, Oden averaged 11.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game before succumbing to injury again.
As for concerns that he's thrusting himself back into the spotlight instead of launching his comeback with more of an under-the-radar team, Oden said: "They are in the spotlight, what can I say? But for them to come after me with all the stuff I've been going through -- for them to think I can still be an important piece of their team -- I'm really excited about that. The scrutiny ... that's going to be there with any team I signed with. I just want to play."
Asked about his expectations for the coming season, Oden added: "I want to be able to finish the season healthy. (After) everything I've been through, I want to be able to say I played the game and I had no problems."