Greg Oden is about as much of a Blazer as you are at this point

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Hey, remember when Greg Oden was the fun-loving, big-hearted savior of the Blazers who would push them over the top?

Yeah, those were fun days.

Blazers Edge posted an interview 95.5FM in Portland did with the young behemoth prior to Game 6 versus the Suns, and instead of the usual chipperness and easy to swallow answers, well…things were pretty weird.

For starters, Oden hasn’t been around the team. At all. He’s been at home, resting at his mom’s house.Okay, no big deal. Understandable, dude needs to concentrate on rehabbing and no place better to recuperate than Momma’s. Besides, they say that sitting on the bench is hard on his knee.

But he’s probably been on the phone, talking with the team, encouraging them, telling them what he sees, right? From BE:

“I haven’t really talked to anybody. But, you know, I can kind of guess.
 They’re trying to figure out what’s going on. We’re playing good one
day and play bad the next day. I just think they’re going to try to
worry about that and figure that out.”

Oooookay. Well, hey, he’s a young guy. And there are some new guys on the team. Well, one new guy. What’s he going to say, really? That’s understandable, I guess. The good news is, he’s at least been off long enough that he’s starting to feel the knee respond, right?

“I don’t have no discomfort or soreness, I don’t even see that much
swelling actually. So the big thing now is just worrying about
everything around it and getting me to trust my knee again. Sometimes I
still go up the stairs one-legged. I just gotta trust it and get the
other parts of my leg stronger and it will be feeling a lot better.”

So, you don’t trust the leg. That you walk on. That you need, to play basketball. In five months. Right. Dwight Jaynes mentions how odd all of this is on his blog. 

Blazer fans in the comments are predictably defensive of the big guy. He’s had a hard time, and really, they need, NEED him to pan out. Because while Oden is eating cheerios at his mom’s house, the guy they could have picked is pushing the Lakers as far as a young team like the Thunder can, and shouldering much of the load. The long-term is what you’ll hear the Blazers and their fans talk about with Oden. The only problem is we’re now three years into the Oden Era and he’s played 82 games. The long-term is rapidly approaching.

Let’s all hope all the reasons to doubt Oden end up being nothing more than scares and not foreboding signs.

Kobe Bryant went from DeMar DeRozan’s idol to his friend

Kobe Bryant, DeMar DeRozan
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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan was 16 when he was invited to Kobe Bryant‘s camp for the top 25 American high school shooting guards.

A friendship grew between the youngster who would become an All-Star for the Toronto Raptors and the player who would become the third-leading scorer in NBA history.

DeRozan talked at length Sunday night about Bryant, who announced on The Players’ Tribune that he’ll retire after the season, capping a 20-year NBA career.

“The knowledge that he tended to give me every time I got the chance to be around him, especially at a young age, carrying over to the league, it was definitely an honor,” DeRozan said after the Raptors’ 107-102 loss Sunday night to Phoenix. “I tried to listen as much as possible, soak in as much as I could all of the time. It’s crazy how much time flies.”

Bryant was DeRozan’s favorite player while growing up in Compton, Calif.

“I’ve tried to emulate and learn so much from him ever since I was a kid, watching every single game growing up in Los Angeles, having a chance to get with him and learn from him, from conversations even when I was in high school from playing against him, completing against him, being in big games with him,” said DeRozan, who scored 29 points in Sunday’s loss. “It’s definitely a sad, sad day, but he’s been in the game a long time.”

Bryant’s announcement came just before the Lakers’ game against the visiting Indiana Pacers. Fans at the game received a letter of thanks from the 37-year-old player in a black envelope embossed with gold.

Bryant has struggled mightily with injuries the past several years, and is shooting a career-worst 32 percent this season.

“It don’t matter. That man has five rings, 17 all-stars, MVP,” DeRozan said. “There’s nothing he hasn’t done. It’s just father time catching up with him, injuries catching up with him this past year. People will appreciate it when he’s away from the game.”

DeRozan has his favorite Kobe memory – Bryant scoring 81 points against Toronto in 2006. DeRozan, who would join the Raptors as a rookie three years later, said he felt as if he was playing a video game watching the high-scoring spectacle unfold on TV.

DeRozan is in his seventh season with Toronto. He can’t imagine playing 20 years.

“Especially playing at a high level, doing the things he was doing … people don’t understand how hard that is,” DeRozan said. “Even now, a lot of us find ourselves tired (on) back-to-backs. It’s tough. It’s really tough. To do it 20 years at a high level, you have to give that man every credit in the world.”

Hornets’ Al Jefferson out 2-3 weeks with strained calf

Al Jefferson
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The Hornets have been playing well of late, going 7-3 in their last 10 and outscoring opponents by 6.3 points per 100 possessions. They are solidly in the playoff picture out East, in the six slot right now.

This is not going to help matters.

The team announced that an MRI confirmed center Al Jefferson will be out two to three weeks with a strained left calf muscle, suffered during Charlotte’s 87-82 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

Jefferson missing a few weeks due to injury at some point during the season is an annual event, like the Rose Parade or the Head of the Charles Regatta — but this year the Hornets are better prepared to deal with it. This is the deepest Charlotte team in recent memory.

Tyler Hansbrough, Cody Zeller, and Frank Kaminsky will get more run — plus Spencer Hawes may be back in the rotation — and if they can step up the Hornets will not slow down much.

This season the Hornets defense has been downright stingy when Jefferson is on the bench, giving up 94.2 points per 100 possessions (which is 10 better than when he is on the court). However, the Hornet offense and rebounding efforts are stronger when he plays.

PBT Extra: How did Thunder, Pacers move up in PBT Power Rankings?

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As they do every Monday during the season, the PBT Power Rankings came out and while the top three remained the same there were some climbers.

Specifically, the Thunder at No. 4 and the Pacers at No. 5.

Why they are there is the latest PBT Extra topic with Jenna Corrado. The simple answer is they are both excellent teams. Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Paul George are all playing like Top 10 players.

PBT Podcast: We’re back talking Kobe, 76ers, Warriors, Pistons, more

Kobe Bryant
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The ProBasketballTalk NBA podcast is back.

Sure we’re a month into the season, but we’re going to get this podcast rolling again and you can expect us on each Monday and Thursday, with a variety of guests talking everything around the NBA.

Today NBC’s own Dan Feldman joins Kurt Helin to talk Kobe Bryant‘s retirement announcement, and what that means both for the Lakers going forward this season and beyond, but also what that could mean for Byron Scott’s future as the Lakers’ coach.

We also delve into the “showdown” between the Lakers and Sixers on Thursday, talk about the job Brett Brown is doing there as coach (a good one), we talk some Warriors, some Draymond Green, Pistons, Spurs and Pacers to round it all out.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.