Portland Trail Blazers Need to Bring Back Center Greg Oden

Tyler Ward@twardyyyAnalyst IJune 3, 2011

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 20:  Greg Oden #52 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks on against the Golden State Warriors during an NBA game at Oracle Arena on November 20, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

I know, I know. It sounds outrageous.

The question is probably running through all readers' minds: Why in the world would the Blazers want to keep Greg Oden?! He was once a No. 1 selection and has missed more games than he's actually played!

I'll say this first though. I am NOT a fan of Oden. I knew he was not going to be a great player simply because of his knee problems. I insisted that the Blazers should have drafted Durant. But you can't turn back the clock, right? I am not bashing on Oden, just displaying facts.

Let me recap a little bit before I delve into this topic.

At the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery, the Blazers had just a 5.3 percent chance of getting the first overall pick. The Grizzlies had the best chance with 25 percent.

Somehow, the Blazers ended up with the No. 1 selection, with Seattle getting the second pick (8.8 percent chance of getting first selection, 9.7 percent chance of getting the second pick). Memphis ended up getting the fourth selection, eventually drafting Greg Oden's Ohio State teammate, Michael Conley.

The top two prospects of the 2007 draft were Ohio State's Greg Oden and Texas' Kevin Durant. The Blazers were equally infatuated with both prospects, with neither gaining any headway.

The draft finally came around.

Commissioner David Stern stepped up to the podium and announced, "With the first pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Portland Trail Blazers select...Greg Oden."

Many thought that Oden would become an All-Star and help lead the Blazers back to the playoffs.

But that hasn't been the case thus far, as Oden has struggled mightily with knee problems.

Through his first four seasons, Oden has played in just 82 games. Yes, 82 games out of a possible 328 games. And all 82 of those games have come in two seasons. He has missed a full 82-game season twice in his young career.

In his young career, Oden is currently averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds and has started just 60 games.

Oden has been injured so much that the Blazers had to make a deal to bring in veteran center Marcus Camby in exchange for guard Steve Blake and forward Travis Outlaw on Feb. 16, 2010.

Camby, albeit not playing in Portland that long, has proved to be a better acquisition than Oden.

The Blazers finally have the opportunity to get rid of Oden, however, as his contract will soon expire and he will become a free agent.

But before they completely dismiss him, the Blazers' front office needs to realize that they are possibly better off keeping the oft-injured center.

Oden shouldn't ask for a humongous contract, but if he wants something around $5-7 million per season, the Blazers should definitely look into it.

Marcus Camby is set to retire soon, maybe even before the 2011-12 season. They really have no backup center to Camby, and Oden could fill that need.

Portland dealt center Joel Przybilla at the trade deadline that sent Gerald Wallace back to the Western Conference.

The trade of Przybilla is hurting them now as the only replacement is Oden.

And if there's one thing the NBA has showed us is that it's hard to win championships without a good, deep frontcourt. If the Blazers want to contend for a championship, they need to add another piece to the frontcourt puzzle.

That's where Oden comes in.

Oden is a quality rebounder (averaged 8.5 per game in 23 minutes last year) and a decent shot-blocker. If nothing else, he provides a big body in the paint.

General manager Geoff Petrie and the rest of the staff definitely need to look into re-signing the big man, although he always seems to go down with an injury.

Hopefully, with the right rehab and enough work, Oden can return and actually play the majority of a season. And the Blazers need to hope that it's for them, as they are running out of options and cap space.