Greg Oden will become a free agent at the end of the 2010-11 NBA season. The Portland Trail Blazers could be about to lose a guy who has only played 82 games in his first three years in the NBA. Oden was the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, who then had to go through micro fracture knee surgery and missed his first season with the Portland Trail Blazers. According to NBA Fan House, the guy who will forever be known as the player selected before Kevin Durant in that 2007 NBA Draft has decided that he won’t sign a contract extension with the team that has stuck with him, and will instead opt to try out free agency.
82 games in three years isn’t very good, and Oden has averaged only 9.4 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in that time. Oden won’t even be back on the court this year until late November, meaning that the Blazers will be paying him even more money to rehab injuries rather than enter games. Oden will be up to a salary of just under $6.8 million in the 2010-11 season, but he wants more in the free agent market, and won’t be taking the qualifying offer that is already on the table from Portland. Instead he is going to test the free agent market in one of the most inopportune times to be without a contract.
The NBA is facing a lockout during the next offseason, and with that could come a huge restructuring of how contracts will work for players. Oden could be risking a much lower contract on the open market, but he could also be setting himself up for a really big payday. There aren’t many seven-foot centers in the league that can also put points on the board, and if Oden can have a really good season this year, he could become a hot commodity. In order to do that though, he will have to stay healthy, and prove that he isn’t just one of many fragile players that have never been able to play a full NBA season.
Portland still has the upper hand this year, meaning that they have the chance to match any contract offer given to him by another team. This will make it important for them to decide if he is worth getting another big contract, or if they are going to move in a different direction without Oden. Oden has the potential to still be a star in the NBA, but he has got to work hard at keeping himself healthy so that he can fill up the stat sheet. He will be an interesting player to watch this season, and he would most likely be coming off the bench when he returns to Portland. His decision to not re-sign could also mean he gets traded if Portland doesn’t think he fits into the plan.