Tag:Greg Oden
Posted on: July 11, 2011 6:23 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 10:23 pm

What teams risk in a lockout: Northwest Division

A look at what is at stake for the NBA's Northwest Division if a whole season was lost due to the lockout. Posted by Ben Golliver.


Talk of losing an entire NBA season is a bit ridiculous. But it's a possibility. And with all this hardline talk going on, it seems like neither the players nor the owners are wanting to budge. There's incentive for teams to get a deal done and not just for the money, but because a year without basketball and more importantly, basketball operations, could greatly affect each and every NBA franchise.

Earlier this week, we took a look at the Southeast Division, the Atlantic Division, the Central Division and the Southwest Division. Let's continue with the Northwest Division.  

MINNESOTA Timberwolves

The NBA's worst team won just 17 games last year, had the league's seventh-worst home attendance and is generally mentioned at the top of the list of examples that "prove" the NBA's economic system is broken. That's because their local television, ticket and memorabilia revenue simply cannot compete with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics of the world. Despite all of that, the Timberwolves might very well have more to lose than any other team in the Northwest Division if the league were to miss an entire season.

Let's start with 2009 lottery pick Ricky Rubio, who against all odds took the plunge and decided to finally join up with Minnesota. For multiple seasons, Rubio has represented hope, carrying Timberwolves fans through ugly winters and late-season collapses. The wait was excruciating. The uncertainty about whether he would or wouldn't stay in Europe further into the future made it worse. Now that he's on board, he's been greeted at an airport, introduced to his teammates, sold some jerseys and rallied the collective fan spirit a bit. To lose an entire season would make that interminable wait that much longer. It would also rob Rubio of a valuable development and acclimation year, which would be an absolute disaster. This is a point guard who needs to start on Day 1, entrusted with the full support of his coaching staff and allowed to make mistakes and build chemistry with his teammates while learning on the job. No season means no opportunity to do any of that.

Aside from Rubio, there are financial risks as well. That might be surprising, because the Timberwolves currently are the only team in the NBA that does not have anyone on their books for more than $6.3 million next season, a fairly astonishing accomplishment. Of course, there's a catch: All-Star power forward Kevin Love is on his rookie deal. Indeed, Love is heading into the last pure season of his rookie deal before Minnesota either must issue him a qualifying offer or sign him to an extension. Worse yet, it's possible that Love, one of the league's premier rebounders, will command a mini-max extension or close to it. The point here? He's set to make just $4.6 million next season, a bargain for his production. If the season is lost, the Timberwolves miss out completely on that outstanding value and are one year closer to biting the bullet on extending him without having reaped full benefits. That's tough.

Last but not least, a lost season is the perfect excuse for any franchise to delay tough decisions or to talk themselves into trying to make things work. With an imbalanced roster full of mixed and matched pieces, the Timberwolves, despite their accumulated talent, are going to struggle mightly again next season. The pains of those struggles, theoretically, could be enough to finally convince owner Glen Taylor to pull the plug on president David Kahn, a man who hasn't shown the ability to construct a team and outright wasted two second round draft picks on technical mistakes during the 2011 NBA Draft, by trading a hurt player (Jonny Flynn) and drafting someone who lied about his age (Tanguy Ngombo). A year without games, then, is a year without losses, which means another year for Kahn to preach patience and wiggle out of responsibility for this mess. The sooner Kahn is gone, the sooner this ship turns around. A lost season will make "sooner" feel like never.


While the Timberwolves need to get headed in the right direction, the Oklahoma City Thunder are already there. With the best designed roster in the league, two young All-Stars, an undisputed Northwest Division title and a Western Conference Finals appearance under their belt already, and a passionate fanbase that is guaranteed to provide 40+ home sellouts next season, the Thunder would happily start the season today. A lost season, then, would be a nightmare.

Name something, anything, and it's at risk for the Thunder. They lose the value of Russell Westbrook playing on a rookie deal. They lose the value of James Harden on a rookie deal. They lose the value of Serge Ibaka on a rookie deal. They lose one year of Kevin Durant's Hall of Fame playing career. They lose another season of playoff experience. They lose a very good chance at making a run at an NBA Finals. They lose a season of having their top eight players (Durant, Westbrook, Harden, Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins, Thabo Sefalosha, Nick Collison, Eric Maynor) all locked into affordable contracts. They lose the chemistry and momentum that goes with having an entire nucleus together for multiple years.

What's worse: they have nothing to gain from a work stoppage, other than perhaps the money that would come with increased revenue sharing. Without a single bad or untradeable contract on their books, there is no financial reason OKC would root for a year away from the game. In fact, any change to the Collective Bargaining Agreement that firms up the cap would make it more difficult for the Thunder to keep all this talent in house. That means they wouldn't get the chance to win now and their ability to win later could be compromised.

Usually, young teams that make a deep run through the playoffs can't wait to get back on the court for a second go-around. Multiply that feeling by about 10 and that's the situation facing OKC. 

PORTLAND Trail Blazers

lockoutYou might think the injury-plagued Trail Blazers would welcome some time off to lick their wounds and assess the damage, but missing an entire NBA season wouldn't necessarily be a good thing for this franchise. Really, it's a muddled picture.

The main benefit is clear: the Blazers have a very difficult cap situation next season, thanks to a mini-max contract for guard Brandon Roy, who is apparently no longer capable of reaching his previous All-Star level of play. Saving the $15 million owed to Roy, as well as the $10.5 million owed to aging center Marcus Camby, would be a tempting proposition for most small-market owners. Money aside, saving the miles on Roy's knees wouldn't hurt either.

Blazers owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, however, has dealt with serious health problems in recent years and is clearly in spend-big, win-now mode. He would cut a check tomorrow for five times his team's total salary cap if it meant a shot at the NBA Finals, no questions asked. It's difficult to imagine a financial enticement that would make it worth Allen's while to take a year off. 

Aside from Roy, the other big question is center Greg Oden. Missing an entire NBA season doesn't play in Oden's favor, as he hasn't taken the court for an NBA game since December 2009. A lost season means his layoff would extend nearly three full years to October 2012. That's a long, long time to be away from basketball. Complicating that further for the Blazers is the fact that Oden is a restricted free agent this summer. The Blazers would retain matching rights on Oden if a season was lost but they would be forced to offer him an extension without being able to see whether he recovers fully to be able to take the court and, more importantly, withstand injury once he's out there. Oden could command a mid-level type of offer on the open market, which would be a major investment for Portland, because the Blazers have already committed to nearly $80 million in salary for next season, with contracts to Roy, forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace and guard Wesley Matthews already on the books into the future. Without another center on their roster who is in their long-term plans, though, the Blazers wouldn't have a choice. They'd have to pay up. Given that situation, you want as much information as possible; a lost season would mean no information.

Finally, the Blazers have a big question at the starting point guard position. His name is Raymond Felton, and he was acquired in a draft day trade for previous point guard Andre Miller. Felton is in a contract year and hasn't played meaningful minutes with any of his current teammates, except for a stint in Charlotte with Wallace. Felton will require a good-sized contract extension next summer as well and the Blazers would surely like to see how he gels with their core, particularly Aldridge, before they commit to him long-term. Without any starting quality options on the roster, they would again find themselves stuck in a corner, forced to do what it takes to retain Felton without a readily available back-up plan.

To boil it down: the Blazers have enough questions without a lost season. Missing a full season would simply create an array of complications and made some tough roster decisions that much more difficult and, potentially, costly. 

DENVER Nuggets

Sure, the Denver Nuggets lost franchise forward Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks, but they did an excellent job of stripping their roster down to allow for a quick bounceback rebuilding effort. The Nuggets, somewhat like the Thunder, are in a financial position where their salary cap situation makes it more advantageous for next season to take place unhindered. The Nuggets currently don't have a truly horrible contract on their books, although the mid-level deal for Al Harrington and the $15 million or so left to be paid to Chris Andersen over the next three years are regrettable. Indeed, the Nuggets have committed to less than $40 million in salary for next season, pending a potentially major financial commitment to big man Nene, who has decided to test the free agency waters, and a decision on guard J.R. Smith.

The biggest risks for Denver would be missing out on the value of point guard Ty Lawson on his rookie deal and managing whatever concerns might arise about Denver's ability to use its salary cap flexibility to continue work on its rebuilding situation. Most analysts believe teams with salary cap room will be in a position of strength, regardless of how the new CBA shakes out, so perhaps that uncertainty is more of an annoyance than a true concern. 

The Nuggets have a lot of questions. How will they spend their money? Who will they bring back? Who will they let go? Are the players under contract currently good enough to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference next year or is it better to continue slashing and burning for another season? These are good questions to have because they all point to one fundamental truth: The Nuggets have flexibility thanks to their young, cheap assets. The worst case scenario is that Nuggets fans have to wait a year to watch a promising, athletic upstart group entertain. That's not too bad. 

If I'm the Jazz, I'm totally cool with taking a year off. A lost season means that Utah would save $14 million owed to Al Jefferson, $10.9 million owed to Mehmet Okur, $9.3 million owed to Devin Harris and $8.1 million owed to Paul Millsap. While Millsap is probably worth his number, the other three certainly aren't worth theirs, especially on a team that lost its foundational identity when it shipped franchise point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets at the trade deadline.

Right now, Utah's finances are pretty tight, with $61.5 million already committed for 2011-2012. Look ahead just one year, though, and that number drops to $48.7 million. To make things even nicer, Jefferson, Harris and Millsap will all be expiring that season. The Jazz will be poised to take advantage of their new-found flexibility, keeping the parts that fit (probably only Millsap) and dispensing with the rest.

The biggest risk in a cancelled season for Utah would be the lost development for younger guys like Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and 2011 first-round picks Enes Kanter and Alec Burks. In Favors, they have a potential franchise forward who needs to start enjoying a loose leash so he can blossom into the player the Jazz expect him to be. Forcing him to take a year off does him no good and, depending on how he responds, could do him some harm. Kanter, meanwhile, looks like an even bigger risk on paper because he was forced to sit out last year at Kentucky, his only year at the college level, due to eligibility issues and because he hasn't yet tasted the NBA game. A lost season would mean two full years away from competitive basketball, not an ideal situation for someone the Jazz selected with the No. 3 overall pick in this year's draft. As for Hayward and Burks, they are lesser concerns. Both have shown promise and clearly have room for improvement. Losing a year wouldn't be critical, but it would be better for them individually if it could be prevented.

On balance, the financial rewards seem to outweigh the development risks for the Jazz.

Salary numbers courtesy of StoryTeller's Contracts.
Posted on: June 29, 2011 5:19 pm
Edited on: June 29, 2011 8:43 pm

Blazers tender qualifying offer to Greg Oden

Posted by EOB Staff greg-oden

Update (8:37 p.m.): On Wednesday afternoon, the Portland Trail Blazers confirmed that they have tendered a qualifying offer to Greg Oden.
"We've stood behind Greg Oden every day since he became a Trail Blazer and that continues with today's announcement," said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller . "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."
From Yahoo! Sports:
Portland Trail Blazers officials have told Greg Oden’s representatives they will tender the center an $8.8 million qualifying offer to make him a restricted free agent, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. The Blazers have until midnight ET Thursday to give the qualifying offer.
via Blazers to make qualifying offer to Oden - NBA - Yahoo! Sports.

The move isn't surprising, the Blazers have been rumored to be making this decision for months. It does send a signal, however. In doing so, the Blazers are asserting that Oden does not have enough long term injury questions to justify abandoning him to the market. 

Oden has had microfracture surgery... on each of his knees. Think about that. The most severe knee procedure that players have performed on them, and he's had it on both knees. Amar'e Stoudemire is considered an injury risk because of one microfracture surgery five years ago. Chris Paul is questioned without having had said surgery. And Oden has had it on both knees and broke his patella. 

So yeah, buyer beware there.

If Oden does receive an offer from another team, the Blazers will have seven days to match the offer. Usually, a team will frontload a contract to try and force the player's team to not match. But with Oden, they face the quandary of front-loading a contract for a player who is still recovering from injury, versus backloading a contract for a player with injury issues who may not be able to play, no, scratch that, definitely won't be able to play if he has another severe injury.

The Oden Problem is a tough one to figure out.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 1:16 pm
Edited on: June 21, 2011 2:17 pm

Tough times for Oden - people think he's LeBron

Posted by Royce Young

Not that you should expect anything better from a TMZ reporter stalking athletes and celebrities, but this one thought -- for some reason -- that Greg Oden was LeBron James.

Oden, who has always had one of the most underrated senses of humor around, played the whole thing magnificently. When he was asked if he was a "baller," Oden shook his head and said, "No, I tried, but I'm not any good at it." Please hold all Greg Oden surgery jokes for later. Though Blazer fans all probably just took a shot when Oden said that.

Not the best time to be mistaken for LeBron either. With all the criticism and backlash laid on him after this season and the finals, being Greg Oden might've actually been a little better this time.

Posted on: June 15, 2011 6:09 pm
Edited on: June 15, 2011 6:27 pm

Agent: Greg Oden underwent 'interventions'

Bill Duffy, president of BDA Sports, says Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden has undergone "interventions" to help deal with the mental strain ofgreg-oden being injured. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, has had trouble staying on the court, playing just 82 games in his four-year NBA career. Throughout the trials, which have involved multiple microfracture knee surgeries and a fractured patella, Oden has received support off the court.

Bill Duffy, president of BDA Sports, the agency that represents Oden, told Portland radio station 750 AM on Wednesday morning that the center has received professional help in dealing with the mental side of all the injuries. 

"Counseling, therapy, interventions, just to let him understand all the pressures, not to put too much pressure on himself," Duffy said. "Everybody needs that. Not just an athlete but someone to talk to and share your thoughts and your concerns and just get reassurance. If you do things the right way, stay patient, keep your eye on the prize, you'll be fine."

In 2009, Oden revealed to Yahoo! Sports that he had visited a sports psychologist, however there has been no previous talk of interventions publicly. 

Reached by telephone Wednesday, Portland Trail Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan, newly installed after Blazers owner Paul Allen fired previous GM Rich Cho in May, told CBSSports.com that he personally had not been a part of an intervention with Oden but refused to divulge any additional information.

"I'd rather not confirm or deny any of that," Buchanan said. "I was not involved with it. I couldn't tell you either way."  

In September 2010, The Oregonian reported that Oden had stopped drinking and going out to clubs. "My first year (2007) was probably my worst," Oden told the paper. "But after that, I definitely cut back. I never thought that I had a problem or anything. I actually stopped last season." 

Asked whether Oden's interventions were to express support for him or whether they were specifically related to drinking or substance abuse, Buchanan again refused to comment. 

"That's something I'd rather not comment on," Buchanan said. "Greg has been great for us and anything that took place along those lines is between Greg and his people. Greg has been awesome for us."

Oden is currently rehabilitating from microfracture surgery in November 2010. Microfracture surgery generally carries a 12 month recovery time period.

"You proceed with caution," Duffy told 750 AM. "We don't want to come back too soon. We're not going to even challenge it until we get to that 12 month threshold. If it were December or November or January we just can't afford any more slip ups. We'll wait until we get full clearance and then probably err on the side of caution, maybe a month or so after that."

Buchanan's timeline was slightly more optimistic -- sometime between October and December -- but he said the Blazers, who must issue a qualifying offer to Oden before June 30 to make him a restricted free agent, would work with Oden, his representatives and the medical experts to establish an appropriate timeline for his return.
"We'll work together collectively, Greg and the doctors and us," Buchanan said. "We're still a little ways out. It's hard to put a timeline on it other than what you can go by historically from a player recovering from a microfracture. We're going to be supportive of Greg making sure he feels 100% comfortable to get back on the court. We're going to rely on what both Greg and what the doctors tell us. We want to make sure that he's in the right mindset as well as the right physical condition to get him back on the court. We're going to wait until all the conditions are right for him to get out there and play again."
Posted on: June 6, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: June 6, 2011 12:28 pm

NBA players play the newlywed game on Kimmel

Posted by Royce Young

How well do you know your teammate? A simple question, but when put in the format of the Jimmy Kimmel show, good results are sure to follow.

Kimmel asked Evan Turner, Andre Iguodala, Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge "newlywed game" type of questions. For instance, did you know Turner plays with his belly button during practice? Or that Oden's favorite thing about a woman is "that she's a woman." Deep, Greg.

(I think my favorite thing about this is Oden's face as he downs that ice cream sundae. Hilarious.)

Via Blazers Edge
Posted on: May 17, 2011 5:49 pm
Edited on: May 17, 2011 5:53 pm

Coach McMillan: Blazers need backcourt shake up

Portland Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan says his team has a lot of questions to address, starting with the backcourt. Posted by Ben Golliver. nate-mcmillan

The Portland Trail Blazers were bounced out of the NBA playoffs in the first round for the third year in a row, and coach Nate McMillan sounds like he is ready for something to change. Scratch that, a lot of things.

In an interview with Blazers Courtside on Monday night, McMillan said that his team has "a lot of questions that we have to answer" this offseason. His top priority? A backcourt shake-up.
"The first thing is to balance the roster. The combination of the twos that we have -- with Wesley [Matthews], Rudy [Fernandez] and Brandon [Roy] -- that combination is just... really... there's no way we can play the three of those guys.

"Our backup point guard, our guard position. I played Brandon at that spot most of the second half of the season. We've got to look at the point guard position."
McMillan also said that oft-injured center Greg Oden remains a question mark. "When will he be ready to go next season?" He wondered aloud.

His comment about the two guard spot is perhaps the most intriguing for two reasons. First, because Matthews was just signed to a five-year contract last summer and is the type of intense, two-way player that McMillan loves. He's also been mentioned as part of the team's core going forward. Second, because Roy is essentially untradeable because of the deteriorating condition of his knees.

Obviously, that leaves Fernandez as the odd man out. Fernandez is entering the fourth year of his rookie deal next season, set to make $2.2 million. While a fan favorite, Fernandez has been plagued by inconsistency and was virtually invisible in the playoffs, averaging just 2.8 points and 2.0 rebounds in the first round series against the Dallas Mavericks. Could Fernandez be headed out of Portland?

Whether it's Fernandez or someone else, McMillan noted that change could come as soon as draft night. "All of those things we will have to look at here before the draft and ... if it is possible to make some moves to improve the team, we've certainly got to do that."
Posted on: May 5, 2011 2:34 pm
Edited on: May 5, 2011 2:34 pm

Agent: Greg Oden will be back, can't fear injury

Mike Conley, agent for Greg Oden, says the center needs to get healthy so he can play without fear of injury. Posted by Ben Golliver. greg-oden-knee

Oft-injured Trail Blazers center Greg Oden is set to become a restricted free agent this summer, and the City of Roses is abuzz about how much money Portland will have to shell out to retain his services in the likely event that he chooses to decline a one-year qualifying offer to test the free agent market.

Mike Conley, Oden's agent, told the Indianapolis Star that he expects interest to be high in his client and that he expects Oden to make a return to the court next season.
"I know that he'll play next year, and as long as he keeps his weight down, he'll get back to being the Greg we knew, being able to run and jump and everything. The thing is keeping him healthy and give him the confidence to play without being scared."
"I think there will be offer sheets on him and he'll have an opportunity to earn more at Portland, or if Portland doesn't want to match it, he can play somewhere else. I know there will be some teams interested," Conley said.
Oden did not appear in a game during the 2010-2011 NBA season as he was rehabilitating from knee surgery before suffering another injury that forced him to undergo microfracture surgery during the season. He's played in 82 games combined in four seasons and Blazers GM Rich Cho says the center is still "a way's away" from returning to basketball activities.

With veteran Marcus Camby the only real starting-quality option at center, the Blazers need a return to form from Oden in the worst way. That his agent openly admits the mental battle will follow Oden even after he returns to the court goes to show how long of a climb the center still has in front of him. 

The good news is that he will be getting paid either way this summer. If there are no offer sheets with enough guaranteed money for his liking, he can always return on a one-year qualifying offer, which would pay him $8.8 million and allow him to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2012. Life could be worse for Oden, even if it probably doesn't feel that way after being away from the court for so long.
Posted on: April 9, 2011 2:19 am
Edited on: April 9, 2011 2:22 am

Blazers C Oden: Running is 'over 5 months away'

Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden says he is "over five months away" from being able to start running after his microfracture knee surgery. Postedgreg-oden by Ben Golliver.

Back in March, we noted an interview with Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden in which he said he was "nowhere near" returning to the court after suffering a season-ending knee injury earlier this year. Nearly a month later, and not much has changed.

During Friday night's game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Lakers in Portland, Oden joined the Blazers Broadcasting telecast to provide an update on his rehabilitation from microfracture surgery on his left knee that he underwent in November. 

Oden said that, as of now, he's "still doing two-leg strength, body weight stuff" and that any type of on-court basketball activitiies are "very far down the road." 

Asked specifically when he might make a return to the court, Oden said, "I can say, over five months away. I won't start running until then."

Oden is now nearly five months out from his surgery so another five months would mean he wouldn't be cleared to run until almost 10 months after his surgery. Originally, doctors anticipated Oden would miss "at least a year" due to the microfracture procedure. 
Category: NBA
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