Greg Oden: Are the Portland Trail Blazers Giving Up on Their Center?

Eric StrellerContributor IIOctober 13, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game at Oracle Arena on November 20, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

When Greg Oden was picked over Kevin Durant in the 2007 NBA Draft, I was devastated. I lived in Oklahoma City and it looked like it was only a matter of time before the Seattle Supersonics would arrive in town.

I was a huge fan of Oden and didn’t care so much for Durant. I actually believed that Oden was going to be the better player and that Durant was too frail to be effective. I don’t like to admit I was wrong, but this time I’m ecstatic to do so.

Luckily for the Thunder the Portland Trail Blazers picked Oden, and with that pick came all of his bad fortune. Meanwhile, Durant has became a perennial All-Star and the future face of the NBA.

This isn’t about Kevin Durant though; it’s about Oden. It appears that the Blazers are ready to give up on Oden and cut their losses. He sat out all of the 2007-2008 NBA season after having micro-fracture surgery on his right knee.

In 2008-2009, he played 61 games, but sat out two separate times due to injury. First it was his foot, and then it was his left knee. Even when he did play, he only logged 21.5 minutes per game.

The start of the 2009-2010 season was a new chapter for Oden. He showed some promise and the Blazer Nation was breathing a sigh of relief, while holding their breath at the same time. This time around Oden played just over 23 minutes per game for a whopping 21 games before a season-ending (left) knee injury.

So here we are on the cusp of the 2010-2011 NBA season and there is still no timetable for his return. They’re taking their time in getting him back, which they should. However, the mood around the organization seems to be one where any production Oden offers this season, or any season to come for that matter, is just extra icing on the cake.

Oden went from being a huge piece of the cake to a small piece of icing in just three years.

In an interview with John Canzano of The Oregonian, the Trail Blazers general manager Rich Cho stated, “If I knew he’d be back Nov. 30, I’d say it.” He doesn’t want to give us a date, because he simply doesn’t know. That’s not a positive reflection on how the recovery process has gone.

The Blazers can’t afford to leverage their franchise on a player that has played only 81 games in three seasons. It should be no secret by now that Joel Przybilla is now the center that the organization is counting on.

From this point forward, Oden will be playing second fiddle to Przybilla, and that’s how it should be until quality of play and quantity of games suggest otherwise. Przybilla has his share of injury problems as well, so he’s not the most reliable replacement. When he is healthy though, he is a very effective player.

I hate to say it, because I was one of the many who really had high hopes for Oden, but he will never be a reliable center in the NBA. His body just isn’t built to take the beating that is awarded to NBA centers. The Blazers are beginning to snap out of their lengthy nightmare and realize it as well.

Even if he does return midway through the season, can you imagine the psychological issues that Oden will have to play through. We can’t even fully comprehend what will be going through his mind on the court.

You have to think he’ll be more worried about not getting injured than how to help his team win. In sports, that’s never a good recipe for productivity.

I fully expect the Blazers to sign a center in the coming days, and when that happens, it will be the first step of many to come in the Blazers' admittance that Greg Oden is no longer the player they’re counting on.

It’s too early to talk about him among the biggest draft busts of all time, but he’s on the fast track to that comparison.

Only time will tell what will really happen to Greg Oden, but the Blazers are finally being realistic with expectations. While it’s been tough for them to come to grips with, it’s about time.