Time Is Ticking For Blazers, Oden

After being drafted number one overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2007 in a draft which included Kevin Durant, Greg Oden has been beset with numerous injury-plagued seasons since his rookie season. Let’s put it this way, he has yet to play a full NBA season.

Now Portland has to think about offering Oden a qualifying offer of $8.8 million or Oden becomes a restricted free agent:

The Dallas Mavericks’ championship victory Sunday night triggered the start of a deadline for the Blazers to tender an $8.8 million qualifying offer to the soon-to-be free agent center. The Blazers, who did not extend an offer Monday, have until June 30 to do so.

Assuming they do — and the Blazers have given indications they will — Oden will become a restricted free agent on July 1, which means the Blazers will have the upperhand in resigning the former No. 1 overall draft pick who’s brief NBA career has been marred by injuries and surgeries.

Even Oden’s camp expects the Blazers to sit back and wait until the last minute:

“I’m sure they’re going to hold off doing anything until the end,” said Mike Conley, Oden’s agent.

Portland would be wise to see what the free agent market gauges Oden’s value. $8.8 million is too much for a player, in my opinion, who’s knee is shaky, and because of the injuries, hasn’t proved anything on the court. 

With Oden, you have a player who still is undergoing rehab in Los Angeles and although he may be still young but would you trust that knee of his? I sure wouldn’t.

Not to mention his confidence and mental state. Has all these injuries and surgeries shaken his confidence? Will he be constantly over-cautious on the court, playing timidly out of fear for making that wrong pivot, taking a hit on the knee, or landing awkwardly off a rebound?

“He’s working hard and he wants to come back strong,” Conley said. “He wants to make sure when he comes back that he stays back and is ready to be productive. He feels like he’s let a lot of people down not being on the court and he wants to do everything he can to get back. He’s had to live the last three to four years with being the No. 1 pick and with a lot of hype and a lot of expectations. Now he realizes nothing matters unless he can get on the court and be productive.”

Signing him to a one-year contract seems reasonable but not any longer. Oden needs to show he is truly 100% healthy, has the skills on the court which made him the number one overall pick and can be the player he once was touted as if he wants a long-term deal.

(photo: daylife.com)