This is not a discussion that will end anytime soon. And certainly reasonable people can disagree.
Ben Golliver, who I respect a great deal, wrote this column for Hoops Hype where he urges the team to move on without Oden. I’m sure that a majority of Blazer fans go along with that opinion. But I have to say, I respectfully disagree.
Oden is simply too good to walk away from. If you watched those 20 games he played last season you know what I’m talking about. Nobody now seems to want to admit it, but for those games, Oden was Portland’s best player. Period. Better than Brandon Roy or anyone else. He also happens to be an old-fashioned power center in an era where there are very few of them, which I think makes him even more valuable.
And with all the money this team has already invested in him, I think they owe it to themselves to give it another year. The guy is still so young, just 22 years old, and to walk away from an asset like this at this point seems to be irresponsibly impatient.
I may have a little more perspective and patience than a lot of you. And I remember all about Sam Bowie, too.
Probably about 99 percent of you consider Bowie a total bust, and one of the most famous busts in NBA history. But he wasn’t. He played 76 games as a rookie and was very promising, but then his career took a turn toward Oden’s as he played just a combined 63 games over the next three seasons.
Bust, right? Well, not exactly. There was still enough interest in him — and respect for him — that Portland was able to throw him together with a first-round pick and get Buck Williams, an all-star, in a trade with New Jersey. Williams was a difference-maker in Portland. Bowie, by the way, ended up playing 10 seasons in the league and walked away from contract offers for a couple of more years when he retired to his horse farm in Kentucky.
No, that’s not a bust.
Oden has value. Still. And it’s high enough value that you’d be stupid not to chase another $8.8 million, in the form of a qualifying offer, after him — assuming his rehab and progress goes well. And if Portland doesn’t make him an offer, a whole bunch of other teams just might.
The only thing worse than Oden turning out to be a guy who NEVER becomes an NBA player is if he turns into one while in someone else’s uniform.