Blazers Officially Waive Big Man Jeff Pendergraph

The Portland Trail Blazers have announced via text message to the media that the team has officially waived big man Jeff Pendergraph.

Pendergraph, a second-year forward out of Arizona State University, suffered a season-ending knee injury during a preseason game against the Utah Jazz. Pendergraph was a fan favorite for his hard-nosed play, eccentric personality and wild dancing during pre-game huddles; hard luck stories in the NBA don't come much harder than his.

Pendergraph was set to see major playing time early in the season - due to the dual absences of centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla - before he tore his right ACL against the Jazz. The injury will require surgery, potentially multiple surgeries, and it was quickly deemed season-ending. 

The move hurts, but it was not unexpected, as less than two hours after the injury took place but before the severity was known, I wrote that "a final, particularly dark, option would be to release Pendergraph" so that the team could pursue a replacement big man.

Pendergraph was endlessly available to the media, and had volunteered to appear on Blazers Courtside as a regular guest during his rehabilitation. Instead, seeking a roster spot with which he could sign Argentinian big man Fabricio Oberto, Blazers GM Rich Cho decided to waive Pendergraph, whose $762,195 salary for the season is fully guaranteed. His 2011-2012 salary of $884,872 was not guaranteed and he is now an unrestricted free agent.

Adding insult to his injury, the last play of Pendergraph's Portland Trail Blazers career (barring a return next season) occurred during a preseason game that wasn't televised, leaving a vast majority of Blazers fans unable to see his contributions and progress this season. That should never, ever happen again.

Update: Here's the team's press release announcing the release.

TRAIL BLAZERS WAIVE JEFF PENDERGRAPH

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Trail Blazers have waived forward Jeff Pendergraph, it was announced today by General Manager Rich Cho.

"We want to thank Jeff for his hard work and professionalism since he arrived here in Portland, and we wish him a fast and successful recovery from his injury," said Cho. "We sometimes have to make difficult decisions in this business, and this was certainly one of them."

Pendergraph suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in an Oct. 7 preseason game at Utah and is scheduled to undergo surgery as a result.

Pendergraph, 23, averaged 2.7 points and 2.5 rebounds in 39 games (four starts) as a rookie in 2009-10 with the Trail Blazers after being acquired from Sacramento in a draft day trade on June 25, 2009. The Arizona State product was the 31st overall pick in the second round of the 2009 NBA Draft.

With Monday's move, Portland's roster stands at 14 players.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter
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