Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers watches from the bench as his teammates take on the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Greg Oden Running Again After Latest Microfracture Surgery

Oden will be a restricted free agent after the Blazers elected to make his $8.8 million qualifying offer. Had they declined, Oden would have become an unrestricted free agent and left the team for good.

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Greg Oden Running Again, 11 Months After Microfracture Surgery

Greg Oden is still on the road to recovery, some 11 months after undergoing another microfracture surgery on his left knee. Oden, who has been plagued by knee injuries throughout his career, fractured his patella in December of 2009, with recovery coming slow in the aftermath. After multiple setbacks and the microfracture surgery, though, Oden seems to be moving forward.

Oden posted a status update on Facebook on Thursday, informing fans he was running again.

In LA right now working out. I ran the other day for the first time in awhile. Felt good!

Blazers Edge did the math and it seems Oden is right about on schedule.

6 1/2 months ago, Greg Oden said: "running is over 5 months away." So he's in the ballpark of being on schedule?

Oden's future is still in limbo no matter what happens with his recovery. The Blazers did hand Oden a qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent. Portland could also bring Oden back, should he make a full recovery.

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Greg Oden Qualifying Offer Picked Up By Portland Trail Blazers, Oden To Become Restricted Free Agent

Greg Oden's $8.8 million qualifying offer will be exercised by the Portland Trail Blazers just hours before the deadline to do so, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. This will make Oden a restricted free agent, but the Blazers will retain his rights and could have him play at that salary whenever next season begins if they cannot agree on a long-term contract and if no other team makes him a contract offer.

There was a lot of speculation that the Blazers would not exercise the qualifying offer and make Oden an unrestricted free agent. This would have saved Portland that $8.8 million and indicated an official parting of the ways between them and the man they picked No. 1 overall in 2007. Instead, the Blazers have elected to hang onto the hope that Oden could be a part of their future, though it's still possible that Oden ends up leaving the organization this summer.

Oden is still recovering from another microfracture surgery on his knee. He still has no timetable for his return.

For more on Oden and the Blazers, visit Blazers Edge.

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Doctor Who Performed Microfracture Surgery On Greg Oden Estimates One-Year Recovery

The news just keeps getting worse for Greg Oden after he learned he had to undergo microfracture surgery on his left knee. The surgery itself was successful, but Oden's projected recovery timeline is pretty long. 

A person who was among those performing surgery on Oden said that they figure Oden's recovery timetable will keep him out for a full year. Via Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge.

A surgeon from the Vail clinic that did Greg Oden's microfracture knee surgery estimates he will "be out probably at least a year or so."    

If Oden indeed will miss a full calendar year, that will keep him out for the start of the 2011-12 season, and will probably limit him for even longer. That is significant, because as we discussed before, Oden is a restricted free agent next summer. The only way the Blazers will give themselves a chance to keep him is if they pick up his expensive $8.8 million qualifying offer. Now, we have a pretty good idea that the Blazers won't get a full season out of that $8.8 million if they indeed pick it up.

For a full transcript of Dr. Tom Hackett's remarks on Oden, head over to Blazers Edge.

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Greg Oden Injury: What Is Oden's Future With The Portland Trail Blazers?

Now that Greg Oden has suffered yet another season-ending knee injury, it's natural to wonder whether he has any sort of future as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. By the end of the this season, Oden will have played in just 82 out of a possible 328 games in his career. Will the Blazers move on and cut their losses with him?

The answer is: we don't know. In Wednesday's press conference, general manager Rich Cho said this about Oden's future, via Blazers Edge.

"Greg is still a part of the team. He is going to be a restricted free agent this summer. I expect him to be a part of the team. He will be restricted, he will be able to look at other teams. As Jay mentioned, his right knee came out strong. If you ask Greg, his knee that he had microfracture surgery on is stronger than it was before he had microfracture surgery on it. So we expect him to still come back."

However, there are many complications at play here.

As Cho said, Oden is a restricted free agent next summer. The Blazers could have given Oden an early extension this summer, but naturally, they elected not to because of his injury history. (In fact, only five players: Kevin Durant, Joakim Noah, Jared Dudley, Al Horford and Mike Conley, got extensions). By not giving Oden the extension, the Blazers allowed Oden to hit restricted free agency next summer.

But in order for Oden to become a restricted free agent, the Blazers must pick up his qualifying offer. The qualifying offer is essentially a proxy salary for the next season that acts as a last resort contract. If no other team comes forward with a contract offer, and if the current team cannot reach an agreement on a long-term contract, the player takes the qualifying offer and becomes an unrestricted free agent the next year. Normally, picking up the qualfying offer is a formality, because it's not for all that much money.

However, because Oden is a former number one pick, his qualifying offer is extremely high. Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player's salary in his first four years in the league, as well as his fifth-year qualifying offer, is based on draft position. A player taken with the number one pick has a much higher rookie-contract salary than a player taken with the 22nd overall pick. Oden's qualifying offer for next year, according to Sham Sports, is for $8.8 million. Given Oden's injury history, it's likely no team, especially the Blazers, will offer him a long-term contract. That means that, if he were to stay with the Blazers, it's highly likely he'd have to do it on that $8.8 million qualifying offer. That's a large chunk of change for any player, much less one with Oden's injury history.

That's probably why Blazers Edge posted this tweet last night.

Given size of qualifying offer & recovery timeline for microfracture surgery, there's a decent chance Greg Oden is done as a Blazerless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

 

That's also why many rival executives told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com the same thing.

"No way," one executive told CBSSports.com. "Tough situation."

Another exec, conceding that Oden's qualifying offer is an "enormous number," said, "I think there's a chance that they won't."

The possibility of a hard salary cap in the new CBA throws doubt into Oden's future as well. If the NBA does adopt a hard cap, the Blazers would suddenly need to cut some salary. The Blazers already have just over $53 million committed next season to Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, Luke Babbitt and Elliot Williams. Andre Miller has a $7.8 million partially-guaranteed contract, but you'd think the Blazers would want him back. That pushes their payroll to $61 million, when the cap is probably going to come in the $55 million range. Save for renegotiation of players' existing contracts, there doesn't appear to be much room for Oden's $8.8 million salary.

So as sad as it is, we may have seen Oden in a Blazers uniform for the last time. Perhaps the Blazers give Oden the qualifying offer as a measure of goodwill, but that's an expensive form of goodwill. There's an equally great chance that they decide keeping Oden around just isn't fiscally prudent.

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Blazers Trainer: Greg Oden First Experienced Discomfort On Monday

It would be natural to suggest that the Portland Trail Blazers knew Greg Oden's knee injury was serious and decided to cover it up until now. After all, they haven't provided any sort of timetable on his recovery, which is not normal. However, Trail Blazers trainer Jay Jensen put that conspiracy theory to rest very quickly during a press conference on Wednesday night.

Jensen told reporters that Oden's rehabilitation was progressing normally, until Monday. That's when he began telling the trainers that his knee was swelling. On Tuesday, the knee swelling got worse, and that's when they discovered that there was significant problems.

Via SB Nation's Blazers blog Blazers Edge:

"We went to L.A. to play the Lakers on Sunday, and Greg had had a workout that was broadcast on TV because our doctor watched him work out before the game on TV. He had a workout, a strong workout, a strenuous workout and when he came off the court there was no talk that he was struggling or that he was having difficulty with his knee. On Monday, I first heard about the discomfort in his knee at Coach Luke's funeral. He mentioned to me that his knee was sore and that he had some swelling or effusion. We looked at it, it wasn't a large amount. The following day, Tuesday, we had our next game. I saw him at shootaround and he had a significant effusion on his knee, one that warranted him to see Dr. Roberts that night at the game."

Oden, Jensen and the doctor were in the room at the same time when they saw the news.

Dr. Roberts pulled up the picture of Greg's knee on the screen and Greg didn't know what he was looking at. But Dr. Roberts did and I knew what to look for too, and there was the defect in his articular surface of his left knee. We sat there and it was like we got kicked in the stomach. We all felt like we had just been told that somebody close to us had died. It felt that way. We didn't know what to say. We were shocked.    

The scary thing about Oden's knee injury this time is that the Blazers still don't really know exactly what triggered it. As Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge notes on CBSSports.com, this is the second time Oden has suffered a serious knee injury without the team knowing exactly what incident caused it. When Oden had microfracture surgery in 2007, no reason was given for it. This time, the Blazers sort of knew it happened during that workout in Los Angeles, but they don't know when. All they know is, on Tuesday, an MRI revealed a deficit in Oden's articular cartilage that was "like a nine-iron taking a divot out of the grass."

Either way, the circumstances surrounding Oden's recent injury happened recently, not a long time ago.

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Greg Oden To Undergo Microfracture Surgery On Left Knee; Out For Season

Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden will undergo microfracture surgery on his injured left knee and will miss the remainder of the 2010-11 NBA season. Oden has been sidelined since last December with a fracture in his left patella that failed to heal properly. It's the second time Oden has had to undergo microfracture surgery, the first coming on his right knee prior to his rookie year.

The Blazers passed along a press release with the details. (via Blazers Edge)

Dr. Richard Steadman will perform the surgery with assistance from Trail Blazers orthopedic surgeon Dr. Don Roberts at the Steadman Hawkins Clinic in Vail, Colo.

Oden, 22, has been sidelined since fracturing his left patella in a Dec. 5, 2009, game vs. Houston. A recent MRI showed damaged cartilage to the surface of his femur, and his current injury is unrelated to the fractured left patella.

The Blazers made Oden the No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NBA draft, picking the Ohio State center over current Oklahoma City phenom Kevin Durant. Since then, Oden has appeared in just 82 games during his four-year career. He's averaged 9.4 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.43 assists in that span.

For more on Oden and the Blazers, check out SB Nation's Blazers Edge.

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