No way. Seriously. No way.
That is all I could think when I heard last night about Oden. It felt like a cruel joke. Because there is no way someone could be that subjective to injury. No way, after battling all the way back, arguably a month before he’s back to normal, he needs to have season ending surgery. I found myself wishing I sucked at reading (I’m actually a phenomenal reader, shout out to Reading Rainbow) so I could be wrong. Felt like my eyes were betraying me the same way Oden’s knees betrayed him. So where do we go from here?
First, those of you familiar with the business world know the term “sunk cost”. A sunk cost is a way to analyze a future investment. Basically the idea is you cannot look at what you have already invested in a project, player, etc. as part of your decision making. What’s gone is gone. What makes the most sense from this point forward? Well, I think that is the same approach the Blazers need to take with Oden. We can’t talk about all the time and money we’ve invested into him already, because to be honest that has no bearing on his future success. Bottom line is the deal we give him (or do not give him) needs to be treated like we were signing the guy away from another team. A fresh start. And in a way, isn’t that what Oden needs the most?
We have a few options, and to find out even more, I sent a question into an ESPN chat with Hollinger today. No big deal, we are pretty tight.
Yes. He can either take the QO, negotiate a deal with the Blazers for any other amount/years, or sign an offer sheet with another team.
So basically if we do not extend the qualifying offer to him, he is an unrestricted free agent and any one can sign him for whatever. If we do extended the qualifying offer, he can do one of 3 things that Hollinger details. This is a tough decision, and I don’t envy Rich Cho and company on this one. I think the answer lies in Brandon Roy’s knees and how we perform for the rest of the year. Or at least it allows that extra time to gather more information, plus remove ourselves emotionally from this news.
Bottom line is we have played more games without Oden then with Oden, so it’s not like we don’t know how to do it, and how to do it successfully. The thing it does change is our championship outlook. It’s clear that we are one superstar/all-star away from truly competing in the west. Not sure where we are going to get that guy, but what we do know is we can no longer look to Oden to fill that role.
In a weird way, after the initial shock wore off, I almost felt relieved. Relieved of the fact that our championship aspirations more or less rested on Oden’s brittle knees. That is no longer the case. We know now that we can no longer hold our breaths on him. If he stays and turns into a great player, bonus. That’s all it is. And I think that’s the attitude Cho and company need to have moving forward.
One last note. I truly feel sad for Oden. The guy has wanted nothing but to play good basketball and be liked. Hollinger (my boy) did a good job reminding us of that in his article today on ESPN. In particular this excerpt:
“The defining moment, for me, remains a little less than a year ago in a game against Houston. Oden was lying on the Rose Garden Arena floor, with his kneecap several inches lower on his leg than kneecaps are supposed to be, and his first instinct was not to wonder, "Why me?" or to angrily curse the basketball gods.
It was to tell Roy, "I'm sorry."
If that isn’t Oden stay in Portland in a nutshell, I’m not quite sure what is.
PS – One more trip down memory lane