The Portland Trail Blazers announced via press release on Wednesday that the organization has decided to tender a Qualifying Offer to center Greg Oden. The offer, worth $8.8 million, makes Oden a restricted free agent and gives the Blazers the right to match any offers made to him by other teams. The deadline to tender the offer was Thursday, June 30.
"We've stood behind Greg Oden every day since he became a Trail Blazer and that continues with today's announcement," said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller . "Despite the setbacks he's experienced, he continues to be resilient in working tirelessly on his rehabilitation. We're all very encouraged with not only his progress, but with his commitment and determination to return to the basketball court."
Jason Quick of The Oregonian has posted further comments from Miller.
"At the end of the day, it's not Greg's fault that he has not been able to be healthy,'' Miller said. "He has caught some bad breaks. But we still believe in Greg.''
"At this point, we are not going to give up on him,'' Miller said. "When we drafted him, we believed - as did most people around the NBA - that he is a game changer. And he has shown us in some of the games when he was healthy, we still believe that he can help us win. So based on what we believe Greg can bring to the table, it was not a difficult decision for us.''
Mike Barrett of Blazers.com has posted a few thoughts from Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan.
"We were excited to tender him this offer," said Blazers acting general manager Chad Buchanan. "We've been very pleased with the progress Greg has made. He has been through a lot with us. He knows that we still firmly believe in him. There's a reason for us tendering him this offer. We hope to see him back on the court just as soon as he is ready."
"I think he's very happy that we've tendered this offer," said Buchanan. "He's very excited about it. He understands the committment we're making by offering his contract."
Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported earlier Wednesday that the Blazers had informed Oden's representatives earlier this week that they would tender the Qualifying Offer.
Zach Lowe of SI.com posted his thoughts on the Qualifying Offer today. Earlier, we noted Kelly Dwyer of Yahoo! Sports had a take as well.
The move has been anticipated for months. Blazers president Larry Miller said back in Nov. 2010 that the organization would issue a Qualifying Offer to Oden as long as his rehabilitation progressed without setbacks.
The Qualifying Offer is mostly a procedural move. However, it should be taken as a good sign because it serves as concrete evidence that the Blazers believe Oden has a future, both in basketball and with the team, and that the Blazers believe that Oden's future is worth at least $8.8 million next season, no small sum.
Had no offer been tendered, speculation would have mounted that either Oden had more serious health issues than have been made public, that the Blazers no longer believed he fit with their organizational plans going forward, or that he simply wasn't worth $8.8 million and that avoiding paying that sum was worth the risk that he would sign elsewhere in free agency this summer.
With an impending lockout to begin on July 1, the free agency period will be put on hold until the lockout is resolved. Once the NBA is back in full gear, there will be a number of scenarios for the two parties to wade through.
First: Oden could decide to accept the Qualifying Offer and return to the Blazers for the 2011-2012 season at the $8.8 million dollar figure. If he accepted the Qualifying Offer, he would become an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2012.
Second: Oden could solicit offers from around the league. If another team signs Oden to an offer sheet, the Blazers would have seven days to match the offer and retain his rights for the duration of the contract stipulated in the offer. The Blazers would also have the right not to match that contract, allowing Oden to join the team that made him the contract offer.
Third: The Blazers and Oden could agree to sign a multi-year contract extension as well.
Oden was the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. He has played in just 82 games combined in his first four NBA seasons, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. As a Blazer, Oden has undergone microfracture surgery on each of his knees and also fractured his left patella, missing the entire 2007-2008 and 2010-2011 seasons.
For more on Oden from Blazers Acting GM Chad Buchanan from Monday, click here.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter