The Portland Trail Blazers apparently aren’t ready to write off injury-prone center Greg Oden yet.
The professional career of Oden, the first pick of the 2007 NBA draft, has been a massive bust with his frequent injuries. He’s played in only 82 games in his first four seasons, a time during which he’s made $21,795,444 to play in 82 combined NBA games.
That’s a whopping average of $265,798 for each game he’s played in a Blazers uniform.
But the Oregonian reports that the fear of Oden finding success with another team for a one-year qualifying offer to a contract extension.
The team will have the period between the end of the NBA Finals to June 30 to make him an offer. If he wasn’t renewed, Oden would become the first NBA No. 1 draft pick since Kwame Brown not to re-up with his original team.
Oden’s pro career has been dogged with unfortunate injuries. Before he played his first game, he underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee and missed the entire 2007-08 season. He left his first NBA game with a foot injury and played in only 61 games in his rookie season.
And on Dec. 5, 2009, less than four days after setting a career-high with 20 rebounds, he injured his left knee in the first quarter of a game and taken off the court on a stretcher. Later, he underwent surgery for a fractured left patella and missed the rest of the season.
The Trail Blazers announced on Nov. 17, 2010, that Oden would have microfracture surgery on his left knee, ending his 2010–2011 season. He has slowly started his rehab work in the Portland area from that procedure.
While his career has been frustrating for the Trail Blazers and been compared to that of 1980s-era Portland draft bust Sam Bowie, the team can’t let him go now. It simply has too much invested in him.
The Oregonian reports that Oden told the newspaper he would like to resume his career playing at close to 270 pounds. He played his college career at Ohio State at 250 and his short NBA career at nearly 300 pounds.
Marcus Camby tells the Oregonian that Oden retains his “freakish” body. Think of the current-day NBA and the only other centers that compares when Oden is healthy is Dwight Howard.
“Only Dwight Howard is like that,” Camby told the newspaper. “Andrew Bynum is big, but he’s not strong and bulked up like Greg.”
Portland has to bet on keeping Oden around. They couldn’t handle the chance that Oden would regain his health and then come back with a franchise like the Spurs, Chicago or Boston and haunt his old team by fulfilling his promise somewhere else.
Oden turned 23 in January. He’s more than three full years younger than Spurs rookie Tiago Splitter and even more younger than Gary Neal.
That youth remains his salvation for the Trail Blazers if he ever can regain his health.
It’s also a sobering realization to the Spurs franchise, which hit the jackpot on its only two times with top picks in the NBA lottery when it picked David Robinson and Tim Duncan – arguably two of the top 30 players in the history of the league.
And it leads to this question for Spurs Nation: If Oden doesn’t sign with Portland, would the Spurs be advised to take a shot at him if he lands on the open market?
Would it be worth the gamble of investing in Oden for the post-Duncan era to surround him with the current young nucleus the Spurs could pair him with in the future?
How would Oden look wearing Silver and Black?