Roy’s knee is the one that scares Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers have been playing without center Greg Oden(notes) for three years now, pushing past 50 victories and reaching relevance again. They stopped counting on him. The regime responsible for drafting Oden over Kevin Durant(notes) has been pushed out, and a fresh front office bears no burden for a broken No. 1 pick.

Another microfracture surgery for Oden, as the team announced Wednesday, is just another step closer to the Blazers letting him leave this summer.

[Photos: Blazers star Brandon Roy]

Guard Brandon Roy will miss the next two games with a sore knee that greatly concerns the Blazers.
(Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)

As much as the training staff likes Oden, it will have to take into account the mental toll that four years of flailing has taken on him. The issues which have surrounded him – his drinking, his deep emotional lows – play into the uncertainty around his future as much as the two microfracture surgeries on his knees.

The Blazers could survive without Oden, but their true star – Brandon Roy(notes) – has the knees which truly frighten the franchise.

The guard will miss the next two games with soreness in his left knee – a knee that has grown worse and worse. There’s damage and deterioration, and two league sources with direct knowledge of the medical prognosis on Roy say his days as an NBA All-Star, a franchise player, are probably over.

“There’s no real hope of it improving,” one league source with direct knowledge of the medical prognosis told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday. “It’s just about trying to manage it now. He’s not going to be the franchise superstar that [Portland] thought he would be. This isn’t something they consider ‘fixable.’ ”

The Blazers have gathered multiple medical opinions on Roy, but there’s been no clear consensus, no course of action. The scenarios are still wide open. The team could try another surgery. They could limit his minutes, his games, his back-to-back appearances. All of those things are being discussed and likely will be implemented sooner than later. They keep taking Roy to more doctors, but there remains one thing that no one can offer for the beleaguered left knee: a solution.

[Related: Another tough setback for former No. 1 pick]

Another source privy to the discussions between Blazers management, Roy and the doctors, simply says: “It’s bad and it’s not getting better.”

A second microfracture surgery will cost Greg Oden another season.
(Noah Graham/Getty Images)

Before the season, general manager Rich Cho and his staff were so concerned about Roy’s knee that they conducted internal discussions to weigh the possibility of including him in trade proposals, sources said. Only, they never did. The most serious talks the Blazers had were with the New Orleans Hornets about Chris Paul(notes), sources said, and Cho never raised the possibility of including Roy in a trade. Cho understood that he couldn’t walk into a new job and immediately trade one of the most popular players in franchise history.

Privately, Roy is deeply troubled over the perception that he had to ask for his minutes to be reduced, that he isn’t willing to play through the pain. He’s been playing with two troubling knees for years now and understands that he’s lost his explosiveness, his quickness, and that he must search for solutions to save his career. For too long, he pushed too hard with the knee. He cares deeply, and everyone surrounding him is truly worried about his future with the Blazers.

Another source privy to the discussions between Blazers management, Roy and the doctors, simply says: “It’s bad and it’s not getting better.”

[Related: Y! Contributor Network: It’s all in the knees]

When the Blazers started talks on Roy’s contract extension in the summer of 2009, franchise owner Paul Allen pushed for multiple contingencies to protect the organization. Nevertheless, then-GM Kevin Pritchard couldn’t handle the criticism in the Portland public and media, and eventually caved with an $82 million extension with only limited non-guaranteed money in the contract’s final year. The Blazers should’ve challenged Roy to try restricted free agency, but they didn’t have the stomach to fight that PR battle.

The beginning of the end for Pritchard came during Roy talks, sources say. Ownership felt he had undermined them with Roy and his reps, and that Pritchard didn’t back up their tough initial starting point in the talks. Before Roy’s extension was done, Pritchard was largely taken out of the discussions, and Blazers president Larry Miller started to gain control of basketball operations. Pritchard never recovered within the organization.

So much has started to unravel for a franchise with so much promise three years ago. Oden may never play another game for the Blazers. Roy may never be the same. And one of the NBA’s most respected coaches, Nate McMillan, could leave as a free agent this summer. Slowly, surely, the Blazers try to hold tight to something that’s slipping away.

Ultimately, Portland can live without the franchise player they never had in Greg Oden. Brandon Roy is something else, something special. He is the franchise player, the All-Star guard, and every day the fears that he’ll never be the same again grow worse and worse.

Oden’s plight breaks everyone’s heart, but Roy’s? This one could break the Blazers.

Adrian Wojnarowski is the NBA columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter. Send Adrian a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Thursday, Nov 18, 2010