Opinion: For Oden, there’s only one righteous move

By Jeremy Lloyd
Greg Oden

Maybe you’ve kept up to date on all the medical minutia related to the most recent season-ending-before-it-started injury to ill-fated Blazer center Greg Oden. If not, let me sum it up for you in one simple stat: In four seasons with the Blazers, Same Bowie played in 139 games. Oden? 82.

For all the energy Blazer fans spent worrying that their fragile 7-footer might be the next Bowie, the sad reality of the situation ended up being that Oden contributed nearly 70% LESS production less than his injury-prone counterpart.

It’s a worst-case scenario, and there’s no sugar-coating it. So where do the Blazers and Oden go from here? Well, sometime Friday Oden will undergo microfracture surgery on his left knee (he previously underwent microfracture surgery on his right knee in 2007). From there, it will be yet another treacherous and tedious year-or-so road to recovery, one that many observers believe may simply be too much for both the body and mind of the 22-year-old.

And, just to complicate matters, Oden is in the last year of his contract and will become a restricted free agent this summer. If the Blazers want to retain his rights they will have to ante up a qualifying offer of nearly $9 million for the 2011-12 season--this for a player who may never see the court again. If Portland doesn’t make a qualifying offer, Oden becomes an unrestricted free agent, and on the off chance that he does go on to have a productive NBA career, it would be with another NBA team.

Blazers President Larry Miller indicated to the Oregonian that the team would most likely decide to take that $9 million roll of the dice on Oden this summer, but neither scenario is fair to the Blazers or their longsuffering fans.

By the end of this season Oden will have received over $19 million for his sporadic contributions to the Blazers. And even more importantly, his injuries--though certainly not Oden’s fault on a personal level--have wrecked havoc on the collective emotions of Rip City.

For Oden to accept big money to rehab most of next season in hopes of a healing miracle would be pure theft. But for him to resurface somewhere else and go on to play well with another franchise would be almost as big a slap in the face to Portland as LeBron’s poorly-orchestrated summertime Decision was to Cleveland.

If you ask me, there’s only one righteous move for Oden: Ask the team to withhold the qualifying offer, become an unrestricted free agent, and sign with the Blazers for the league minimum. He should then give the team and fan base his word that if he ever does regain his health, he will stay in Portland. Sound too simple? Doing the right thing often is.

Maybe Oden never plays in an NBA game again--it’s a real possibility. But he can go out working hard, and doing the right things. Turning down money you know you won’t earn, and pledging loyalty to a fan base that stood by you through every gruesome twist of fate? Frankly, I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Do you?

Comments

Oden

What person in their right mind would turn down 9 million. No one is going to walk away from money on the table. Tuff Break. Either way Blazers will and have gotten screwed. Oden too, he is human you know. feel bad for him.  

Oden

I agree that Oden would probably never turn down nearly $9 million, but in a perfect world, I think he should. Think about the statement it would make to Portland fans who have stuck with him through thick and thin. Blazer fans would rally around that, and if you think about it, Oden needs all the support he can get right now.

Comments