When the Portland Trail Blazers decide to rebuild, they don't shy away from gutting the roster and starting fresh. That desire to start anew is what compelled their decisions to deal Marcus Camby and Gerald Wallace in two separate deals Thursday, and it's likely that more are on the way.
However, in order to raze the present to build for the future, the Blazers had to take on four players (specifically: Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet) for the two that left. With 17 players on the roster, they must now cut two to get down to the league maximum of 15. And while it typically wouldn't be notable for a team to cut an injured big man set to become a free agent in a few months, most players weren't picked ahead of Kevin Durant in the draft or were once discussed as the best center prospect of a generation. Yet, as first reported by Joe Freeman (no relation) of the The Oregonian on Twitter (via Blazersedge.com), the Trail Blazers have decided to waive Oden and fellow center Chris Johnson.
Oden was likely not going to be re-signed by Portland, and after playing just 82 games in five seasons it's hard to expect anything of him on the basketball court. As we've said several times before, he's not so much a basketball player these days as the idea of one, and until he proves that his knees can withstand sustained basketball activity it's hard to imagine teams giving him much of a shot. The next step for Oden might be a stint in the D-League, or even retirement.
Yet, no matter how little anyone expects of Oden on the court these days, his release from Portland is notable if only because it represents the official end of an era. When the Blazers drafted him in 2007, they had dreams of a star trio of Oden, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge that would lead them to several championships and more than a decade as serious contenders. As long as Oden was on the roster, he brought back memories of those past expectations. At a time when the Blazers are searching for a new long-term plan, it made sense for them to part ways with the biggest symbol of the previous era. With any luck, the end of this relationship will give Oden some renewed life, as well.
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