HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — His name rarely comes up around the hideout anymore, which seems strange since he was all we talked day after day this time a few years ago.
But the clock is ticking on Greg Oden and the Portland Trail Blazers. They have to extend a qualifying offer to the oft-injured big man sometime before midnight Thursday, a formality already handled by plenty of other teams for their soon-to-be free agents (as seen here on NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker).
While every indication is that the qualifying offer will be extended, The Godfather has some keen observations on the topic:
It’s interesting how long it’s taken, though. Most teams have taken care of this type of paper work by now, made their decisions and pretty much gone down to the business of figuratively nailing the plywood on all the windows in preparation for the upcoming lockout hurricane.
Portland has no choice but to bring Oden back. The team has spurned opportunities to acquire other centers, or even draft one. They’re stuck with a teetering Marcus Camby in the middle and not much else up front on the bench.
Funny thing, though. As dependent as the Trail Blazers are going to be on Oden next season for any real improvement, a long lockout may be just what the doctor ordered. All indications are that Oden won’t be fully recovered and ready to play until January. That may be right about the time the NBA players come to their senses and accept the whipping they’re going to take at the bargaining table.
A 50-game season would be the perfect prescription for Oden. The last time the league went to one of those abbreviated seasons, of course, it had to jam three-games-in-three-nights situations into the schedule and Oden would probably have to sit out the middle of those games, but no matter.
All that is predicated on the idea that the Trail Blazers will take a chance on Oden, something that is still being discussed in Portland, per our main man John Canzano of The Oregonian and “The Bald-Faced Truth.”
UPDATED 8:09 p.m. ET:
The Portland Trail Blazers have extended a qualifying offer to center Greg Oden, it was announced today by the team. Portland has also extended a qualifying offer to guard Patrick Mills and exercised its third-year options on forward Luke Babbitt and guard Elliot Williams.
Both Oden and Mills become restricted free agents, ensuring that the Trail Blazers will have right of first refusal should another team try to sign them. The moves give Portland the right to match any contract offer they receive in the offseason.
“We’ve stood behind Greg Oden every day since he became a Trail Blazer and that continues with today’s announcement,” said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. “Despite the setbacks he’s experienced, he continues to be resilient in working tirelessly on his rehabilitation. We’re all very encouraged with not only his progress, but with his commitment and determination to return to the basketball court.”