The Portland Trail Blazers announced on June 29 that they have offered injury-prone Greg Oden, their former number-one draft pick, a qualifying offer of $8.8 million for next season if there is one. The offer means that Oden is now a restricted free agent and Portland has the right to match any other offers that are made to the seven-foot center.
The 23-year-year-old former star for Ohio State has been a major bust so far in the NBA, but not because of his play. He’s been hit by a string of injuries since day one and has only played a total of 82 games in parts of two seasons so far.
He sat out his rookie season back in 2007/08 due to microfracture surgery to his right knee and didn’t play last season either because of the same type of surgery on his left knee. If that wasn’t bad enough, he also broke his left kneecap two years ago. When Oden has had the chance to play he’s been scoring an average of 9.4 points to go along with his 7.3 rebounds.
Larry Miller, the president of the Trail blazers, said the club has stood behind Oden since the day they drafted him and they’ll continue to do so. He said that Oden has worked as hard as possible to rehabilitate his injuries and has shown the club that he’s dedicated and committed to the team despite his constant setbacks. He added that the Trail Blazers are encouraged by his progress and are confident he’ll be able to return to the court soon.
The Blazers offered Oden the new deal just before the June 30th deadline. If they hadn’t offered him a deal he would have been an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. He will also be eligible for unrestricted free agency for the 2012/13 season if he doesn’t receive any other offers and he stays with Portland this season.
The last time Oden played was during 2009/10 when he was scoring an average of 11.7 points a game along with 8.8 rebounds as a starter and 2.4 blocks. He was having a good season until December when he broke his kneecap. Oden figured he’d be able to return last season, but found out in November that his right knee needed microfracture surgery.
It has been a disappointing few years for the club and its fans as Oden was seen as the club’s saviour after being taken first in the draft in 2007 ahead of Kevin Durant. But Oden never played a minute as a rookie due to knee surgery.
It seems that $8.8 million is a lot of money for a guy who’s forever injured. However, at just 23 years old Oden could still end up enjoying a fine career in the NBA. If there is a lockout, it would also give him more time to recover and prepare himself for a return to the court.