Monday morning, the Portland Trail Blazers announced that center Greg Oden was set to undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee. Monday afternoon, the Blazers announced that doctors opted instead to perform a microfracture surgery on Oden's left knee. The injury officially ends Oden's 2011-2012 season and the typical recovery time from a microfracture surgery of this nature is roughly one year.
Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan took questions at the team's Practice Facility on Monday later Monday afternoon. The transcript of those comments is here.
I wrote this extended feature about Oden for CBBSports.com on Monday night. It encapsulates where things stands and how we've gotten to this point. It took awhile. A lot of it is review for Blazers fans but it provides some added context to the quotes that you might not get from the transcript form.
The following transcript includes comments made by Buchanan after the general media session wrapped up on Monday. There were roughly 10 reporters on hand for the earlier comments and just two or three for these.
Before we get to the full transcript, here are some important digest notes from the last 24 hours...
- Oden is now on a small-salary one-year contract with no ability to play again until roughly February 2013, at the earliest. While Buchanan said this was not officially a "career-ending" injury, he also would not say affirmatively that it's still possible for Oden to receive medical clearance to play basketball at some point in the future, when asked that question twice.
- This puts Oden into a similar situation as the one that faced former Blazers big man Jeff Pendergraph, who went down to a season-ending knee injury in the 2010 preseason. Pendergraph was eventually released to create a roster spot. The same thing very well could happen to Oden. With the trade deadline approaching, it's likely no move would be made until after March 15, as his salary could be used for matching purposes in a trade.
- A random tidbit: as a one-year Bird player, Oden actually has the right to approve or reject any trade that involves him, according to a league source.
- The Blazers do not have the ability to apply for a Disabled Player Exception for Oden because the Jan. 15 deadline has already passed, according to a league source. A DPE could have created a roster spot without necessitating his release. Even with the lockout schedule this year, the deadline was not adjusted back.
- Oden is expected to return to Portland in the next week to 10 days and will be allowed to do whatever makes him most comfortable. There are currently no plans for him to address the media and it's unclear whether he will remain around the team or continue to attend games.
- Remember: he's now recovering from two knee surgeries: an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee and this microfracture on his left knee. Also, Buchanan said the "minor blood clots" that were discovered on Feb. 3 very well could have caused Oden to miss the rest of the 2011-2012 season if he hadn't gone forward with the microfracture because of the medication needed to treat them.
- One of the most interesting and important takeaways from Monday was the admission that Oden's rehabilitation progress, both after the fractured patella and after the most recent microfracture, was fairly limited. The details regarding both the pain and the swelling that he's experienced during workouts are pretty raw, but newsworthy from a big-picture standpoint. Unfortunately they amount to a peek behind the curtain at everyone's worst nightmare.
Has this been bad luck?
It's been unfortunate. I think Greg would tell you that he's more disappointed than any of us that he hasn't been able to get out there and play more than he has. From our standpoint, as many injuries as he's had, you feel like is it bad luck or is he just not meant to be here in Portland? For Greg, it's more disappointing for him than anything. He just wants to be out there playing. That's all he wants to do. To go through all these hurdles he's had to go through is very challenging and we've tried to remain there at his side.
Anything he can do to change this?
Maybe it's a little bit of bad luck. No way to know for sure on that. Greg and probably his agent will probably look closer at helping him try to get healthy in dealing with some of the injuries he's dealt with. There's definitely probably a little bad luck involved there for him as well.
What are those alternative options?
I'm sure he will look under every rock. For example, Kobe having the results he's had going overseas, something like that, I'm sure he'll look into. We've talked to him about that a little bit. We want to help him the best we can. Ultimately Greg wants to get himself rid of being injury-prone as he has been and he'll consider any avenue he can.
Can you give us something about his current mindset?
I think he feels disappointed that he hasn't been able to get out there. He knows that he has a lot of people who have expectations on him and want to see him out there. He understands that. He feels kind of like it's been out of his control, these injuries. He understands what people were wanting from him. He wanted to provide that to the team, for the fans and the organization. Unfortunately he just hasn't been able to. For him to continually go through that over and over again both going through it himself and communicate it over and over again probably isn't the most enjoyable thing for someone to go through.
I understand people want to hear from him but he's in a tough spot having to go through what he's gone through. He's an outgoing person but he's also a very private person, that's how he's chosen to deal with this. I commend him for going through what he's had to go through. Different people deal with it in different ways and this is how he's dealing with what he's had to go through.
Where is he at mentally these days? We haven't heard from him in years.
Going through what he's gone through today, it's hard to say where he's at mentally. I talked to him right after he came out of surgery and he was still very groggy. It's disappointing for him. He had hoped that it wouldn't come to this today but he knew it was a possibility but he's disappointed, he knows what lies ahead for him, recovering from another one of these. As far as off the court, that's his private life. We're not going to stick our nose in that. We're going to support Greg and help him become the best player he become. Ultimately he's gone through too many health issues to do that.
Has he been a model citizen in recent years in terms of behind the scenes?
Absolutely. Greg has been great to deal with.
No other surgeries scheduled or planned?
Nothing planned. Barring something coming up again.
Nothing else around the corner?
No more unless the doctors find something in the next week or month or two months, there's nothing on the horizon.
Was he knocked out during the surgery? Did he first learn he had microfracture when he woke up?
When he awoke from his surgery, yeah. He went in at 10:30, it was a couple hours probably. That's a rough estimate.
What do you make of fans booing Greg Oden at the Rose Garden?
Fans have a right to do whatever they choose but I think you've got to remember at the core is a human being who has been through a lot. Stuff that wasn't his choice. He wants more than anything to be out there playing. This is stuff that was out of his control that's happened to him and it's unfortunate that some choose to do that.
Does it make you angry?
I mean, I know Greg as a person. To hear people, it hurts a little bit. It hurts more for Greg to think that stuff is out of his control, I know fans are frustrated, Greg is frustrated but this is stuff that was out of his control. It's unfortunate that it's happened but it's happened. No one wants to be out there playing more than Greg does. Fans -- it's their right. I think we have great fans, I understand their frustration and I think you also have to remember he's a human being who's been through a lot and it was't any of his choice.
Do you remember your feelings when you guys called in the first pick of the 2007 NBA Draft?
Very excited. A chance to draft a player who could potentially get your franchise get to your ultimate goal. Looking back on it, I think we were all excited. Had visions of Greg being a great player for us for years to come. Unfortunately it hasn't happened. It's part of sports, it's part of life. Sometimes things don't play out the way you hope or expect. You just have to move forward and make the best of things. We still have a lot of good players here that we want to continue to build around. Unfortunately Greg hasn't been part of it the last five years. But at the end of the day it's a human being who has been through a lot. You have to have some compassion for him.
What do you say to the 2007 NBA Draft second-guessers?
Looking back on it, I would still draft Greg. Going into that draft, obviously hindsight, it's easy to make an assumption at that point. With the information we had leading up to the draft, who we thought Greg would be as a player, obviously you can't predict the injuries that would come, going back on it, at that point, I wouldn't have changed anything, drafting Greg.
Was the decision unanimous?
I don't want to comment on that one.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter