Greg Oden: Past, Present or Future?



The Portland Trail Blazers once put their fate into the hands of Kevin Pritchard who made a habit out of getting rotation players in the NBA Draft. Have a quick look at the players he selected during his stint as the Blazers general manager (he became Portland’s GM in 2007):
-Rudy Fernandez (obtained in 2007 draft day trade)
-Nicolas Batum (obtained in 2008 draft day trade)
-Jerryd Bayless (obtained in 2008 draft day trade)
The name that’s missing for that list? Greg Oden. The jury is still out on whether the former Ohio State center was worthy of being selected first overall in the 2007 draft; but this much is true: he was Pritchard’s pick. And with Kevin Pritchard no longer in Portland, the decision on whether to extend Oden falls in the hands Rich Cho; who has little to no attachment to the former Buckeye because he was not the one to select him.
Consequently, Greg Oden’s future with the Trail Blazers is in limbo given his history of injuries. If you have kids, you understand that it’s always easier (and at times unrealistic) to project greatness from them no matter their limitations. The NBA is no different; general managers usually overvalue their players and give them ludicrous contracts that they fail to live up to.  Mind you Oden lost his general manager and must now try to remain healthy for a full season and outplay Marcus Camby and Joel Przybilla if he hopes to remain in Portland.
Although I agree to some extent with the Blazers line of thinking, extending the center might not necessarily end up being a terrible idea. At age 22, it’s clear that barring a significant injury he should be an above average NBA center. Indeed, he rebounds, blocks shots and dunks anything around the basket. Do you know how much that costs in the NBA? Around $10 million. Have a look at the NBA centers who fit Greg Oden’s job description (players listed are no longer on rookie scale contracts except of course for Greg Oden):
Player
Salary
PPG
RPG
BPG
FG%
MPG
Kenyon Martin
 $16.5
11.5
9.4
1.1
45.6
34.2
Andrew Bynum
 $13.8
15.0
8.3
1.4
57.0
30.4
Tyson Chandler
 $12.8
6.5
6.3
1.1
57.4
22.8
Samuel Dalembert
 $12.2
8.1
9.6
1.8
54.5
25.9
Emeka Okafor
 $11.5
10.4
9.0
1.5
53.0
28.9
Brendan Haywood
 $10.6
9.1
9.3
2.1
56.2
30.6
Andris Biedrins
 $9.0
5.0
7.8
1.3
59.1
23.1
Marcus Camby
 $8.5
7.5
11.8
2.0
47.5
31.3
Joel Przybilla
 $7.4
4.1
7.9
1.4
52.3
22.7
Anderson Varejao
 $7.0
8.6
7.6
0.9
57.2
28.5
Greg Oden
 $6.8
11.1
8.5
2.3
60.5
23.9
Salary: Scheduled salary for 2010-2011 season.
Stats: From 2009-2010 season.
Even if the Trail Blazers do not offer Oden an extension, they still hold most of the cards because their center would become a restricted free agent next summer (keep in mind that this is subject to change if the collective bargaining agreement is modified by then). This means that if a team were to offer Greg Oden a contract, Portland would have the right to match it and keep him. After seeing the production of the players listed above, we’ve already established that the former Buckeye’s next contract should average out to about $10 million annually (the contracts listed above average out to $10.6 milion).
Where this gets interesting though, is that given his lack of availability in the past couple of years, the Trail Blazers could look to low ball their center. As a result, they might be able to sign Oden to a three or four year extension in the $25 to $35 million range; and remember, he is still only 22. In the event that the injuries persist (the Blazers could even place incentives for games played in his contract), he would still be a good trade chip because of his age and potential. The counterargument would be to let him ride out the season and see if he remains healthy and then wait for a team to offer him a contract and just match it; but the Trail Blazers would be risking the possibility of a team offering to sign him at a figure way beyond market value thus preventing them to match the offer and watching him walk.
I would love to see Portland sign him to a reasonable contract and take their chances with him, but truth be told I am not the one signing the checks and furthermore as mentioned previously, Portland general manager Rich Cho is the new sheriff in town and he might not be enamored with the deputies of his predecessor. Time will tell…..

0 Comments:

Post a Comment