What Is the Future For Oden's Contract?
We know that the Blazers are not signing an extension for Oden, and the fact he is going to be a restricted free agent complicates things, however what does history tell us?
1. Centers tend get higher dollar amounts even if is lower production value, based on size and demand
2. Centers tend to get shorter contracts than other positions for two reasons, injury prone, and lack of talent in the league.
3. Centers are in high demand.
While Oden's value will greatly hinge on how he plays this season, i find it hard not to believe a team wont offer a mid-level exception for him at least, the question is whether we choose to match it or not.
Really the Blazers have a few options.
1) Trade Oden by mid-season
2) Let Oden go to another team
3) Sign extension next summer
Keep in mind that what happens to Przybilla greatly determines Oden's outcome, and visa versa meaning Oden's absence means Joel is staying and if Joel stays Oden is leaving. While it would be nice to keep both, financially we don't have the flexibility to do it (especially if we are going to sign Batum to an extension) unless one takes a huge pay cut (unlikely).
Really this season is about what value we could get back for each one, in terms of dollars, and talent. Cho's unbiased opinion makes it hard to determine what he would do, but there is definitely a lot more pressure to keep Oden, based on potential, sentimental value and age (he is younger than Joel). The most likely scenario is that Joel is let go and Oden is resigned, to at least a 3 year contract w/ a 4th year option. Oden's salary however will be greatly influenced by how much he plays this season, and secondly how well he plays (in that order).
What is the future for Oden's talent on the court?
We have seen how good Oden can be on the court. he's an overpowering physical force. Oden ranked third among centers in blocks per minute, third in rebound rate, and second in TS%. He draws fouls and commands so much attention that he opens up the rest of the floor for his teammates. His Player Efficiency Rating is one of the highest among the league in the center position.
The main thing Oden will do in his return is open the floor for his teammates. Even if Oden is only half as good as he has been in the past on the court, he is still going to command a double team, based on his physical skills. The one player that is going alot more open shots on the floor is Aldrige. Aldrige is already taking alot of heat from double teams but with Oden on the court it will take away a lot of the pressure off him.
Remember i am not saying that this is what Oden will do right when he comes back, but what his potential his for his career. The most obvious thing holding him back is injuries, but in the future this season we will have three legitimate centers (Joel, Oden, Camby) that can all play 15-20 minutes each a game so that they can come back slowly and wont have to push themselves to the brink of another injury.