After playing just 81 games since being selected with the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft Greg Oden will become a Free Agent this summer. His team the Portland Trail Blazers had one of two options before June 30; tender the injury prone big man a qualifying offer of $8,788,681 which would make him a restricted Free Agent or allow him to possibly walk away as an unrestricted Free Agent. Although it must have been tempting for the team to cut its losses and say good-bye to Oden, according to a report from the “Oregonian” on Wednesday the club decided to commit once again to the big man. Whether the team truly believes Oden can reach the potential they saw in him when they drafted him or just refuse to admit they were wrong the club submitted the qualifying offer to the center on Wednesday.
Blazers Team President Larry Miller said the team has faith that the former Ohio State center can turn his fortunes around. Miller said “At this point, we are not going to give up on him. When we drafted him, we believed; as did most people around the NBA; that he is a game changer. And he has shown us in some of the games when he was healthy, we still believe that he can help us win. So based on what we believe Greg can bring to the table, it was not a difficult decision for us. We are committed to him, because we think a healthy Greg Oden helps this team. We’ve invested a lot in Greg, and him being healthy is one of the keys to us being able to bring a championship home to Portland. At the end of the day, it’s not Greg’s fault that he has not been able to be healthy. He has caught some bad breaks. But we still believe in Greg.”
Of course it is not Oden’s fault that he has been injured repeatedly since entering the Association in 2007. Just the same the young man has yet to play a full season without suffering an injury and there are no guarantees that he will play if there is indeed an NBA season this year. However, there comes a point when an organization has to say this plan is not panning out and it is time to switch tactics. Apparently the Blazers do not feel this is that time.
Portland Team Owner Paul Allen must gag every time he thinks about Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant, the young man the Trail Blazers passed on to draft Oden. The team can not change the past but they can accept that they made a critical mistake in the 2007 NBA Draft and start looking for an alternative to the “Oden Era” in Portland.