Ball in Oden's Court Now
By mikebarrett Posted in: GregOden
So far, in his young basketball career, not much has gone as planned for Greg Oden. If you believe in karma you would most certainly believe that good things surely have to lie ahead.
The Trail Blazers are obviously banking on that, as late Wednesday afternoon they tendered Oden a qualifying offer which will make him a restricted free agent. The team had until Thursday night at midnight Eastern Time to extend the offer.
But, even the seemingly-simple process of extending the offer, turned out to be a bumpy road.
"We didn't want to just file paperwork with the league and have Greg receive notification through his representatives," said Trail Blazers acting general manager Chad Buchanan. "I wanted to look him in the eye, shake his hand, and let him know how much we believe in him."
I was made aware of how this was supposed to go down on Wednesday afternoon. But, when the time came, and passed, I shot a phone call to Buchanan to see how things went. Oden was in Colorado for a routine appointment with his knee specialist and would be returning to the Denver airport in the afternoon for a return flight to Los Angeles where he has been working out.
Buchanan, Mike Born, and Joe Cronin had planned to fly to the Denver airport, meet with Greg, and turn around and fly home. They had a decent window of opportunity to connect with Oden, but a wrench was tossed into the plan when thunderstorms blew into the Denver area. Buchanan and company learned their flight was being diverted to Colorado Springs, just before landing.
When I finally talked to Chad he was scrambling to catch a connecting flight into Denver and was still hopeful to catch Oden. Our call was cut short because the door to their new flight was being closed, just as they were getting seated. Fortunately, in this case, Oden's flight back to L.A. was delayed, due to that same weather system, and it gave them the opportunity to quickly meet before both parties departed again.
"It would have been disappointing for the three of us to fly down there, and then not be able to see him," said Buchanan. "It didn't exactly go as planned, obviously, but in the end we got it done the way we wanted it to. We got to see him and tell him how much we believed in him. Greg was extremely excited and appreciative that we came down in person to present this. We just thought it was important to do it this way, even though it didn't exactly go smoothly because of the weather."
Buchanan, who added that head athletic trainer Jay Jensen is with Oden, said he has been in constant contact with Oden during this process.
"I think Greg is very happy that we've tendered this offer," said Buchanan. "He's very excited about it. He understands the commitment we're making by offering his contract."
To clear up any confusion about this process, the qualifying offer was the maximum the Trail Blazers were allowed offer. The window to offer him a multi-year deal closed last October. After July 1, under current CBA rules, the Trail Blazers would be allowed to offer a multi-year deal, or match any offer from another NBA team.
Oden, 23, hasn't played in a game for the Trail Blazers since December of 2009 when he suffered a fractured left patella. At the time of the injury, Oden was averaging 11.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks.
He missed all of last season after having microfracture surgery on his left knee in November.
Also on Wednesday, the Trail Blazers extended a qualifying offer to Patty Mills, and exercised third-year options on Luke Babbitt and Elliot Williams.