All this seems horribly unfair to Oden, a gentle giant who, as general manager Kevin Pritchard somberly noted afterward, had worked so hard to come back from his first knee injury. Oden felt bad enough that Brandon Roy said, “He looked at me and he was like, ‘Sorry,’ and put his head down.” He also was asking for score updates while being carted off for his MRI.
In a roundabout way, it’s unfair to Pritchard too. I know what youâ€™re all thinking, so before we go any further: All you second-guessers out there, just stop it. All 30 NBA general managers were prepared to take Greg Oden over Kevin Durant. All of them. There wasn’t even any question about it. One can fairly ask whether this consensus was borne more of the hope that infects every personnel evaluator upon seeing a talented 7-footer than of common sense. That said, it’s hard to single out a front office for doing what everybody else would have done too.
A more salient point is how Oden’s injury puts the rest of Portland’s season in a much different light. As Blazers coach Nate McMillan noted, Oden had been the teamâ€™s most consistent performer in what had otherwise been a largely disappointing season for Portland.
Some great stuff in this about Oden and his attitude and how much it sucks, but what Hollinger really does here is point out how this may not be the end of the universe for the Blazers. This isn’t to say that Oden’s development was a bad thing. Again, I’M NOT SAYING ODEN’S DEVELOPMENT WAS HURTING THE TEAM. But if you look at the pattern, Oden kept getting better and the team kept getting worse. Now it’s only natural to think that both sides would catch up and then they would just ball good together. But the point is that with Oden out, the team responded, and they no longer have that adjustment to make. They want to make that adjustment, they need to make that adjustment, but it does mean that it’s possible in the short term that the Blazers won’t go to hell without Oden. They’ve survived his absences the last two years. They can survive another one.
So when the general media write off this as “Oh, the Blazers are in trouble without Oden,” remember that there’s a flip side to this, that may be at least manageable for the Blazers.