Blazers president Miller plans to give Oden $8.8 million qualifying offer this off-season

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Blazers president Larry Miller is going to have to make some tough decisions regarding perennially injured center Greg Oden’s future over the next couple of years. On the one hand, it can’t be fun to devote resources to a player when you don’t know when he’ll actually be playing NBA basketball, let alone if he’ll ever return to 100%. On the other hand, how terrible would the Blazers feel of Oden actually got healthy and started playing up to his potential for another team?

Since being drafted in 2007, Oden has played in exactly 82 games and has had, essentially, a promising rookie campaign. He’s raw offensively, turns it over too much, and doesn’t have enough post moves to be a 15-20 point a night scoring threat yet. He’s a fearsome shot-blocker and one of the best rebounds in the NBA, but commits too many silly fouls.

If he woke up tomorrow morning magically healthy, he’d be one of the best true centers in basketball, as well as somebody a defense could be built around. Oden doesn’t need to learn anything or add any skills to be a very, very good NBA player at a position where it’s very hard to find very, very, good players — he just needs to not get hurt. This isn’t Dwight Howard adding an 18-foot jumper or a McHale-like set of post moves we’re talking about, or Amar’e Stoudemire learning defensive rotations and how to box out — it’s being able to run and jump and not getting injured in the process. What if, after recovering from this injury, Oden just stopped getting hurt and didn’t suffer a major injury for a few years? It happened for Grant Hill. It happened for Zydrunas Ilgauskas. It didn’t happen for Bill Walton. It has happened for just about every other player in the league.

As a player and a prospect, Greg Oden is clearly worth keeping around, even if he has to miss a good chunk of the 2010-11. It’s Greg Oden’s knees that nobody wants to be in business with, but Miller is looking at Oden as a player rather than a set of problems. Here’s what the Blazers president had to say about Oden today:

“If Greg Oden plays up to his potential he is worth that,” Miller said of the $8.8 million qualifying offer. “We will see where (rehabilitation) things are at that level. But at this point, I don’t see us not giving the offer if Greg is doing the things we need to see him doing to get back on the court. That’s how I feel. If he is doing those things, we want to keep Greg around. I don’t feel like I’m ready to give up on Greg Oden. I don’t think anybody in our organization is ready.”

76ers tie NBA-record losing streak, dropping heartbreaker to Celtics

Isaiah Thomas, T.J. McConnell

After a rare period of on-court competence, the 76ers led the Celtics by five with two minutes left tonight.

Then, Philadelphia snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

The 76ers yielded a 9-0 run to close an 84-80 setback.

They’re now 0-16. Combined with their 0-10 finish to last season, that’s a 26-game losing streak – tied for longest in NBA history. Last year’s 76ers already shared the record.

Philadelphia is also in danger of the worst start to a season. The 2009-10 New Jersey Nets began 0-18, and last year’s 76ers won only one game sooner.

The 76ers will try to avoid the all-time longest streak at the Rockets on Friday. If that goes unsuccessfully, they’ll try to avoid matching the worst season start at the Grizzlies on Sunday. And if both fail, they could set the worst-start record against the Lakers on Tuesday.

76ers-Lakers – it’s shaping up to be a big one.

Timberwolves read mean tweets about themselves (video)

Flip Saunders, Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones
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The Timberwolves didn’t select the meanest tweets about these players, but credit Karl-Anthony Towns, Tyus Jones, Shabazz Muhammad and Zach LaVine for being good sports.

LeBron James: I’m healthier than a year ago


LeBron James received an injection in his back before the season.

It’s working.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

LeBron James now says he feels better than he did even a year ago.

“I feel better in the mornings; I feel better throughout the games; I feel better throughout the day,” James said before a Cavs shootaround Wednesday in preparation for their game against the Toronto Raptors. “It was a rough start to the season for me last year and for our team. Obviously the way we’ve been playing, a lot is predicated on my health and being able to lead these guys out on the floor and not from the sidelines.”

LeBron certainly looks healthier than he did at this point last year. He’s moving much better and giving more effort.

But comparing November to November means very little for the Cavaliers, who hope to play deep into June.

The key question: Did LeBron properly time his injection? There’s a limit on the number he can have in a year, and it takes time to recover after one. Cleveland doesn’t want LeBron to peak to early.

It’s good for the Cavs that LeBron feels better now, but his health in the playoffs remains the priority.

Report: Suns signing Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton
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Eric Bledsoe missed the Suns’ loss to the Spurs on Monday with a knee injury.

So, Phoenix is bringing in a reinforcement – Bryce Cotton.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Jazz waived Cotton before the season despite Dante Exum‘s injury leaving them with just two other healthy point guards. That says something about Cotton – but also Utah’s depth.

Cotton – who went undrafted out of Providence last year – is quick, varies his speed well and can leap. There’s reason to believe in his potential at age 23. But his 6-foot-1 frame limits him defensively, and he’s not much of a distributor.

Phoenix will rely on Brandon Knight and Ronnie Price at point guard if Bledsoe is unavailable. The Suns can also use fewer two-point guard lineups – giving more minutes at shooting guard to Devin Booker, Archie Goodwin and Sunny Weems.

Cotton provides insurance while Bledsoe is banged-up with what seems to be a minor injury. But he might have to show something to keep drawing an NBA paycheck once Bledsoe gets healthy.