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Roy & Oden Have to Go

Even the most devoted Portland Trail Blazer fans have to admit that the circumstances regarding the health of shooting guard Brandon Roy and center Greg Oden look pretty dim. Roy has already drained his knees several times this season with little to no positive results, and the timetable for Oden’s return continues to stretch out further and further. Both players’ injury problems have not only hurt team chemistry but have also dampened their trade values, and the Blazers desperately need to ship them out before the issues exacerbate.

There is no doubt Brandon Roy has played at an all-star level in the past, but contracts should not be made based on past performance, and it is quite evident Roy will never again be able to play at the level he once did. Roy’s knees are basically bone-on-bone, and while recent reports stated that Roy will be out for an extended period of time, it seems more and more probable with each passing day that Roy won’t play another game this season. The Blazers are currently sitting on a maximum contract for Roy, and as long as Roy is unable to play, few teams will even entertain the idea of a trade. Roy was supposed to be the leader of this team, one of the key assets of a young team that looked like they could make a legitimate run for an NBA title. Great leaders not only help their team win but also set the tone for all team members getting along; Roy has had ample trouble seeing eye to eye with Andre Miller ever since the Blazers acquired him, and Roy has even bashed the rest of his teammates as a whole. Combine that with Roy’s constantly recurring knee injuries which only worsen with time, and you have more than enough motivation to begin seeking possible trades.

Coming out of Ohio State as the number one draft pick back in 2007, Greg Oden was heralded by most as the savior of the Trail Blazers. It is now obvious that the Blazers should have drafted Kevin Durant, but nearly everyone believed the Blazers made the right choice by drafting Oden, whether they will admit it or not. What I find most disturbing about what happened is not the Blazers’ talent evaluation of Oden and Durant during pre-draft workouts but the fact that the Blazers were indeed aware of Oden’s physical problems before drafting him! Why didn’t the Blazers look into his physical complications more thoroughly? That should have been an imperative part of the draft process, considering they were about to draft a player who could possibly be the centerpiece of a future championship team, and it’s not hard to figure out that a player with the physical problems of such a high magnitude won’t contribute anything to your team! The result of that draft pick for the Blazers is quite simple: Oden has played sparingly as a Blazer and hasn’t shown signs of improvement, both physically and as a player. The Blazers finally took a step in the right direction by not extending Oden’s current contract, but it is now time General Manager Rich Cho takes another giant step by trading Oden for whoever he can before other teams lose interest in him altogether.

The Blazers already have several players at the shooting guard and center positions who are necessary components for a winning team, so it is really hard for me to understand why more people wouldn’t agree that losing Roy and Oden is a plus for the Blazers. Wesley Matthews is playing unbelievable ball this season, and he just tied his career scoring high with 30 points in the Blazers’ second straight win over Matthew’s former team, the Utah Jazz. Rudy Fernandez has been playing consistent all season as well. Joel Przybilla is now healthy and back to the level of ball he was playing at before he got hurt, and Marcus Camby is still one of the best defensive, rebounding and shot-blocking centers in the league. If the Blazers are planning on building toward a championship-caliber roster any time soon, these are some of the key players the Blazers need to build around, and Brandon Roy and Greg Oden have to go!

--Brett Hochstetler

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