Just when you figure the Greg Oden experiment has failed Portland, the Trail Blazers go and do the unthinkable.
Portland is trying to do what it can to keep its bust of a No.1 draft pick.
As the clock winds down on the current collective bargaining agreement, the Trail Blazers made an $8.8 million qualifying offer to the often injured Oden. The offer makes Oden an unrestricted free agent which means Portland can match any offer made.
It doesn’t seem likely they will have much trouble holding onto the 7-footer, whom the Trail Blazers selected No.1 over Kevin Durant in 2007. Oden has struggled with injuries since losing his rookie season to microfracture surgery on his right knee. That was followed by a broken left knee cap and assortment of injuries since.
Oden has played in just 82 games in parts of each of the last two seasons, averaging just 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds. Those are hardly the numbers you expect from a No.1 draft pick, but obviously the Portland organization still believes Oden can become the dominant player it envision four years ago.
"We've stood behind Greg Oden every day since he became a Trail Blazer and that continues with today's announcement," Trail Blazers president Larry Miller said in a statement. "Despite the setbacks he's experienced, he continues to be resilient in working tirelessly on his rehabilitation. We're all very encouraged with not only his progress but with his commitment and determination to return to the basketball court."
Certainly Oden still has some value and quite a few teams would have been willing to take a risk on the former Ohio State All-American but at a certain cost. But knowing the bidding would go higher than $8.8 could deter teams from spending so much on a player who remains largely unproven.
If no other team makes an offer and Oden remains with Portland then he can become an unrestricted free agent for the 2012-13 season.
This article contains information from the Associated Press.
(Photo: AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)