Los Angeles Clippers v Portland Trail Blazers

Portland released Greg Oden. End of long and winding road.


In it’s trade deadline moves Thursday, Portland took on a number of players (with expiring contracts, to free up cap space to rebuild on the fly) but in doing so at the end of the day they had 17 guys on the 15-man roster. Cuts had to be made.

One of those is Greg Oden.

The 2007 No. 1 overall pick who has not been on an NBA court in three years and is headed for a third microfracture surgery is finally going to be waived, according to Marc Stein of ESPN and multiple other reports.

The Blazers had brought him back on the roster this year but even then it was a reduced rate then his qualifying offer (more than $8 million) because they didn’t think he would contribute much. Then came word that a minor knee surgery became another microfracture. At that point everybody knew it was the end.

This move is not really a surprise. But it is the sunset on the Oden era.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.