7:34pm: Blazers president Larry Miller defended the team against allegations in the Grantland.com story that the Blazers rushed Oden back before the 2010/11 season, resulting in the need for another microfracture surgery. As recounted in a series of tweets from Joe Freeman of The Oregonian (All five Twitter links here) and later supplied in full by Ben Golliver of Blazers Edge, Miller said "one thing we're certain of is that we took great care of Greg and always put his health and well being first."
1:50pm: Greg Oden's former teammate Mark Titus conducted an interview with the 2007 first overall pick, resulting in an incredibly compelling piece at Grantland.com. The entire article comes highly recommended, but of particular interest are the details on Oden's future plans. According to Titus, Oden intends to sit out the 2012/13 season, continuing to work toward his degree at Ohio State. He'll also take all the time he needs to rehab his knees to full strength, in hopes of getting healthy and signing with an NBA team in 2013.
After five injury-plagued seasons in Portland, Oden was waived by the Blazers in March to make room for players acquired at the trade deadline. The 24-year-old reportedly considered retirement at that point, but ultimately decided he wants to try to play again, despite having undergone three microfracture surgeries to date.
"I don't care about what all of these injuries mean for any legacy I might have," Oden said. "I just want to play basketball. I could've signed with a team after Portland cut me and just sat on the bench and collected paychecks, but that's not my style. That just seems really unethical. Besides, money doesn't matter to me. I've got enough money. All I want is to get 100% healthy and get back on the court."
Even if Oden never lives up to the potential that made him the top pick over Kevin Durant in 2007, it would be great to see him eventually return to an NBA lineup. We'll be rooting for him.