Bill Duffy, President of BDA Sports, the agency that represents Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden, joined Brian Berger on 750 AM The Game. His appearance followed one from Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan (transcript here). The Blazers must offer Oden a Qualifying Offer by June 30 to make him a restricted free agent.
Of note, Duffy says that Oden wants to be in Portland long-term but that it could be January before Oden is back playing basketball, adding that "we'll wait until we get full clearance and then probably err on the side of caution, maybe a month or so after that."
Duffy also said that Oden has undergone "counseling, therapy, interventions" to deal with the mental aspect of all of his injuries.
You can download and listen to the audio here. Here's a transcript of the conversation. Questions are paraphrased. Answers are word-for-word and in blockquote.
Does Greg Oden want to be in Portland?
The short answer to that is 'yes.' I think that Greg, from what I can gather, feels like there is unfinished business there. Absolutely loves the community, loves the chemistry of the team, he knows that there's a commitment there to excel. I think on a personal level, I think he has the same aspirations. I think there's a duplicate desire here to win and to be competitive and the poor kid has been on an unfulfilled mission at this point so he definitely wants to correct things. And he's working very, very hard to put himself in that position.
Why has he suffered so many injuries?
Well, we're still trying to wrap our minds around that. Everyone has put a lot of effort in keeping him healthy when he gets hurt but I think you learn more and more about your body -- and I've shared this with him personally -- I kind of liken this to Anthony Munoz, who I've played high school sports against. He was injured at USC, there's a parallel because Greg played one year in college. Throughout Anthony Munoz's first three college years, I think he played a total of 10 games. He was finally healthy his senior year, ends up being the third or fourth pick in the draft, and becomes a Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best offensive tackles ever, in history.
You learn about your body, you correct things, maybe there are some deformative things you can make adjustments to more and more. Once you learn that, and you learn how to train where your weaknesses and idiosyncracies are, and you move forward from that, I think it's just been more of an education. I don't think anything else can happen. I think he's healed properly, we've had the best medical care possible, and his head is straight and I think he sees the light at the end of the tunnel.
Are big men more likely to get injured?
I think it's the brittleness of the bones and the thrust that these big guys put so much pressure on their bodies. I mean you've seen Bill Walton, a number of guys, Kevin McHale, who I played college ball with, he always had those same issues. They caught up to him later in his career. Big guys put a lot of pressure on their bodies and their feet are like everyone else's, they're just not strong to withstand that force and pounding.
What has also changed dramatically and I've always shared this as it relates to Greg and Yao Ming. These guys played basketball or whether it's through AAU, playing for the national team in China. They play upwards of 150 games a year. That can't help but wear you down. I think rest is important and knowing where to exert pressure, not putting pressure on your joints and your bones during the offseason but just kind of change your training so it's a limited amount of time that you have such consistent impact on your body.
Describe Greg Oden's workouts in Los Angeles
I see a work ethic, there's other professional athletes, if I'm not mistaken, Tom Brady is training there, Corey Maggette, he sees other guys coming in and working really hard, guys who are accomplished and I think that's inspiring him. I think those guys are also patting him on the back. I also think because he's not in Portland, he's able to retreat, even though it's L.A., let me go out here and really focus. When I come back, it's going to be the 'New Greg Oden.'
Another aspect that's critically important is that he's matured a lot. How he eats. How he rests. That whole education process, the maturation in him has been very pronounced. I think that's going to pay dividends going forward once he's healthy.
Will he have access to trainers if there's a lockout because contact with team trainers will be prohibited?
Absolutely. We'll be hands on as an agency. We have 40 or 45 players in the NBA so we'll work collectively with the guys to make sure they're all working, they're all in competitive environments among themselves to work, train, we have direct access to a lot of the best [training] professionals as well. We'll make sure there's no drop off.
You proceed with caution. 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.
Has he seen a sports psychologist?
He's been very receptive. We have done that. Counseling, therapy, interventions, just to let him understand all the pressures, not to put too much pressure on himself. 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. The beauty about him, as you all know up in Portland, he's highly intelligent, so he's very receptive to that. And he's an educated person, he went to college for one year but he's also gone back to summer school so he has educational and intellectual aspirations that endear him to that so that he's open and willing to get professional guidance and support at every level. That's not just in that respect, in terms of his business people, financial planners, he's very engaged and very meticulous in learning about those nuances.
How to set value for Greg Oden?
Well, that's the mastery of the agency business I guess. Quite frankly, we haven't even thought about that. We don't want him thinking about that. We want him thinking about getting out on the court, we feel like he will have the opportunity before we have those discussions for him to establish what his value is. Not just with Portland but around the league. That will be a process. There's two aspects to that. There's how much the current team values you and how much the market is receptive to you. That will work itself out. It's not the focal point right now but it will be when we get to that process.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter