We have a lot of speculation on what the team should do regarding Greg Oden's contract, which is expiring. Yes, the Blazers did the smart thing by not already signing him. Rather they took a 'wait and see' approach, giving him time to get on the floor and show his stuff. Obviously, his value took a hit with the latest microfracture on his other knee. And the smart thing is still to wait and see before making a decision. In making their arguements, people make assumptions, possibly emotionally driven on a number of relevant variables that are central in determining what is Greg Oden worth. Variables including:
1) Greg's physical condition, specifically, his knees. Will he ever be physically able to play ? His repeated injuries have led some to conclude that he is somehow physically defective - just too fragile. Yet the team trainer recently went to great lengths explaining that the team has done every imaginable test in search of this supposed constitutional flaw responsible for Greg's string of injuries, and found nothing. I am inclinded to believe that the medical staff directly working with Greg, with full access to all of his medical records actually know more than relatively ignorant critics proclaiming their terminal diagnosis. It could simply be that Greg's superhuman strength taxes the human body to the limits of it's endurance. Big man injuries are hardly unique to Greg Oden.
Then there is the matter of the current surgery at hand. This is apparently very similar to the same microfracture procedure which Greg has already successfully undergone on his other knee. It could even be agued that, once Greg gets through the initial grief on this setback when he was close to playing, he will settle into his rehab routine, with the direct support of his training staff, and the reassurance that he has from the success of the first knee. Considering probable improvements in the microfracture technique over the years, as well as the succes of players such as Stoudemire and Zach Randolpf, there is good reason to expect the current knee to recover to good playing condition.
2) Greg's mental state, his desire to play and motivation to stay focussed and work through the demanding rehab process. Here, again we have the previous surgery to use as a reference. By all accounts I am aware of, Greg was entierly cooperative in following his previous rehab regimen. They may have even learned to do it better, as in not over building the leg muscles to support the knee. He has repeatedly demonstrated his committment to 'staying positive', which I believe is critical for him in being successful through his hardships, as well as supportive of his team mates. If he has had counselling to assist him with his attitude, he seems to be again following the advise well.
Greg has demonstrated to me that he is indeed a 'gentile giant'. He enjoys people. He has inappropriately apologized in the past for being injuried - apologizing as he is being carried off the court with a broken knee cap, showing an incredible concern and desire to please the fans and support the team. This impresses me. A guy who really cares about the fans, deserves the fans to care about him. Which brings us to
3) The fans - do they want Greg anymore ? Are THEY too tired from all of his surgeries and rehab ? Is just watching and waiting for Greg to go through all he is going through just a bit too tough for them ? If so, then maybe they don't deserve him or his allegiance. If that's the case, I'm a bit ashamed for the fans. You do matter to Greg, and it is good to make any support you happen to have known to him.
As for the 'move on' contingent - move on where, exactly. Lottery? Trading off our old or injured assets for who, really? Easier said than done. Tearing down is always a lot easier than building up. We don't have to put all our hopes in any one player. We have a good team of great guys to root for, that I am happy to stick with, until a clearly beneficial trade opportuity arises.
4) Financial factors. Knowledgable fans have provided overviews of specifics on this, and all attempts here are rather handicapped by the impending expiration of the current CBA. "It's a business"? It's sure not makin' me any money, nor Paul Allen, for that matter. It better be about the passion and art of the game and the relationship between the fans and the players, or it is bankrupt. Considering the fortune PA has sunk into this team, this hardly seems the place to 'draw the line', particularly considering we are not considering a max contract here. Bottom line on cost is, the above factors will make the determination of whether Greg continues as a Blazer.
Fortunately no decision has to be made now, and we will have a lot more information on how Greg's currrent rehab is going before any contract decision has to be made. But fans do have an opportunity to back up a guy who has only wanted to please them, to reward them for entrusting him with their cherished number one pick. The majority of you wanted to draft Greg. You needed him for your dreams. Now he needs you for his. Whether Greg stays and succeeds in Portland could depend on what the fans have to say. What do you say? Just wondering.