The Portland Trail Blazers have offered always-injured center and former No. 1 draft pick Greg Oden a qualifying deal of $8.8 million to make him a restricted free agent, despite the NBA lockout beginning tomorrow. In three seasons, Oden has played in a whopping 82 games, as the 7-footer has suffered a broken kneecap and undergone two microfracture surgeries on his knees. But by extending the offer, Portland is telling the rest of the league, “These are our wishes! Our knees! And we’re taking them back.”
“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.” (Los Angeles Times)
Translated: Look, between Sam Bowie and now Oden, Portland is desperate to escape the spotlight of worst high draft picks of all-time. Maybe Miller thinks that Oden can still be a solid NBA center and that’s why he’s investing at least $9 million* in him. But even if he’s wrong, I’d like to look at the positive – thank God Portland made the offer. Can you imagine a healthy Oden (especially sitting out another season with a lockout in a worst case scenario) signing with the Miami Heat? Or with the Boston Celtics? Or the New York Knicks?
Either way, it’s nice to see a guy who is never healthy get a good contract offer. It’s not indicative at all of what is happening in less than 24 hours.
So what does Oden think of his new contract offer?
*If the NBA weren’t heading into a lockout, I would be so excited to see which team tries to top Portland’s offer for Oden. Because despite the financial ramifications of why we’re heading into a lockout, this is a league with the dumbest front office executives in sports. I guarantee that at least five executives with the slightest cap space would try to top Portland’s offer.