Greg Oden said his rehab is right on schedule. Trail Blazers general manager Rich Cho said there’s no timetable for the center’s return.
Is it possible both are holding something back? Well, when it comes to the star-crossed and injury-wrought career of the former No. 1 pick, it’s probably smart to avoid details and proceed on the side of vagueness.
It’s been three years since Portland took Oden to lead off the 2007 Draft, but the Ohio State product has played in just the last two seasons. During that time he’s managed the equivalent of one full campaign (82 total games) as injuries, mostly to his knees, continue to sideline the 7-footer.
The latest was a fractured left patella suffered last December, which has Oden’s availability for the start of this season in serious question. At a charity bowling tournament Saturday in Vancouver, Oden told the Portland Oregonian he’s on schedule:
“The doctors tell me I’m on time. We’re going at a pace that they’ve got for me. Things are looking pretty good.”
It’s just that he didn’t reveal what exactly the schedule was. The Blazers open the season Oct. 26 against Phoenix.
The recently hired Cho was equally non-committal in an interview with the Oregonian last week:
“I don’t really want to put any time frame on it. I don’t want any expectations out there. And I don’t want to put any pressure on Greg. The last thing I want him to do is come back earlier (than he should) because people are expecting it.”
Cho did add that Oden’s rehab has included some light basketball activities and other cardio-related drills, and he’s lost some weight. The team, Cho continued, is pleased with Oden’s progress.
While it’s still much too early to give up on 22-year-old Oden, the clock has to ticking. Is he destined to be plagued by injuries? Folks in great town of Portland loathe mentioning one-time promising center Sam Bowie and Oden in the same breath, rightly pointing out that the injuries of Bowie have nothing to do with Oden’s maladies.
This is a crucial season for Oden, who’s going into the last year of his rookie contract. The team has rights to Oden going forward under the current CBA, but we don’t know what a new agreement will bring. Whether they admit it or not, this has to be an uncertain time for both sides regarding Oden’s career, especially with a possible lockout looming.
Oden’s first order of business has to be getting healthy and, by all accounts, he seems to be on his way. Just don’t ask how far along.