Greg Oden was cut today by the Jiangsu Dragons, his Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) team. Oden appeared in 25 games and averaged 13.6 points, 12.6 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks. The Dragons have two regular season games remaining but have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Other former marginal NBA players, including Michael Beasley and Jason Maxiell, have dominated in the CBA, so Oden's inability to catch on with the Dragons likely signifies the end of his professional basketball career. He could pursue opportunities in lesser leagues but few, if any, pay Americans as well as the CBA.
Jiangsu's decision to cut Oden was likely motivated by strict roster quotas which limit the number of "imports" teams can have on their rosters.
Oden was drafted first overall by the Blazers in the 2007 NBA draft. He was under contract with the team from 2007-2010, but appeared in only 82 games over four injury-plagued seasons.
Over the past several months, Blazers fans have seen LaMarcus Aldridge leave (permanently?) for Texas, and read Casey Holdahl's report covering Brandon Roy's behind the scenes relationship with Damian Lillard. In a way, Oden's release is the final coda on "The Big 3" era in Blazers history. It is perhaps appropriate that this era, which should have all but guaranteed a title, is ending with a whimper instead of a bang. The final announcement ignominiously reported solely on a foreign country's Internet, and ignored entirely by the U.S. media.
At the same time, the symbolic closing of the Roy/Aldridge/Oden book can also serve as a reminder of how far the team has come over the last decade. In 2006 it was rumored that Paul Allen was considering selling the team, possibly opening the door for relocation. To be blunt, at the time, fewer fans would have cared.
But a decade later the team has rebuilt itself and is as strong as ever. The crowd that fell in love with Clyde and Terry has given way to fans left awe-struck by "The Natural." For many, this final news report may represent a bitter reminder of lost potential, but for others it can be a callback to the team that made them fans.
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