In an effort to be transparent I want to start this post pointing out that I am a huge, huge Greg Oden fan. His drafting to Portland brought me into the Blazer fanbase. I am a Portland transplant that arrived during the apex of the Jail Blazer years. I would likely have been roped in as a fan eventually with the roster we have now even without Oden being drafted, but, Oden drug me in far more quickly, I am entering my second season as a season ticket holder. Probably would not have happened without the Oden draft.
With that disclaimer out of the way, the Trail Blazers new GM will have an important decision to make this summer.
What to do with Greg Oden?
The Oregonian comment of the day post (link below) covers this topic, but I thought I would bring the discussion up here
There seems to be a few ideas, some reasonable, others insulting, I will summarize some of them below with my take after the Jump.
1. Trade him now, particularly if it lands a Chris Paul.
My take on this is that it is a bad idea, yes even for Chris Paul. First of all, I doubt anyone moves their franchise player in a deal including such a huge gamble as the potential payoff, they may offer other assets, but not their franchise player. As much as I like Oden, the health questions surrounding him indeed represent a gamble. I think for this next season this gamble is our burden to bear. Secondly, I really like our 4 core young players, I sort of want to see how they play together healthy, something we have not yet seen. I am not the hugest fan of this free agency orgy anyway. I am rooting for players to stay where they are at, I get it if they WANT to play elsewhere because they do not feel they have a shot at a title there or something, but to just have teams buy a new roster to become a playoff contender seems less interesting to me. We have a dramatic story line going here, one that ends in several titles I think if the health issue in general works out. In any case, I want to see it play out.
2. Pay him $5 per game he survives from tip to final horn of a game.
The insulting idea.
3. Sign him to a 2 year deal that mirrors the final years of his rookie contract as an extension.
This idea has a great deal of merit. Oden has proven he can be a difference maker if he is on the floor. His problem is staying on the floor. It is a question mark. This approach makes sure we keep him locked down for a few more years if he shows he can stay on the floor. The problem I have with this approach is that if he proves he can stay on the floor these next three seasons what happens when he becomes unrestricted? Do we really want to risk losing to an Oden lead Pacer team in the NBA finals after beating a Durant lead OKC team to get there? Worse yet would be watching Durant and Oden battle it out in the finals while we are sitting at home. I say the Pacers because Oden seems like a kid that would love to play near moms house and that house is just outside of Indianapolis(this seems even more likely if his money was way below his worth in the 2 year extension period.
4. Have an honest conversation about the situation with him and allow the October 31 deadline to pass, let him become a restricted free agent next summer and if he plays say around 60 regular season games AND is available for the entire playoff run, assure him that you will match any teams offer.
This is my preference. In the end, Greg understands that the Blazers can't offer max money for a long term deal now. The risk is too great. Given that, Greg stands to benefit more financially from this approach if he can stay healthy. If he can't stay healthy then we and he will know it was not meant to be. I believe Greg is going to have a huge season this year, this will not simply be a repeat of 08-09. He knows not to come back with the size he did that season. I have no problem paying him big to match any offer made next summer if he can stay healthy because I am convinced he is game changer when he is on the floor. If he can't clear around 60 games and the playoff run then let somebody sign him away or let him go. As much as I would hate to see that happen, even as a huge Oden fan, I would be willing to concede at that point it is time to move on.
So those seem to be the basic options. I think there are others, for example I would be willing to sign him to that 2 year extension idea more if I knew that the CBA allowed for contract renegotiations before the end of a contract if both sides agree. Specifically, if Oden has a break out, all-star, defensive player of the year type season this upcoming season after signing a 2 year low ball deal this summer, can we renegotiate with him next season for more money and time on his contract? Is there a time period we have to wait for before we do something like that?
Ultimately, I want to see us play this thing out one more season. If he can stay healthy Greg Oden will be a high impact player for us. Given that, I do believe letting him go into restricted free agency is a good deal for us and him in the long run. What do you think?