Oden will get contract, but may not play until January

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It sounds more and more like the Portland Trail Blazers may offer an $8.8 million qualifying offer to Greg Oden so they can keep him. Yes, the Greg Oden who has flashed talent but played in only one quarter of the team’s games the past four seasons due to some serious knee issues. (Possibly, the Blazers would do something like three years at $12 million total instead of $8.8 million in one, so the cost per year is lower and they hold on to his rights if he does bounce back.)

But wherever Oden lands next season (and he will land somewhere), don’t expect to see him on a court until 2012, his agent Bill Duffy told a Portland radio station (technically, Duffy is the president of the agency that represents Oden, but it’s symanitcs). As they should, they will be cautious about his return (transcribed by Blazers Edge).

You proceed with caution. We don’t want to come back too soon. We’re not going to even challenge it until we get to that 12-month threshold. If it were December or November or January we just can’t afford any more slip ups. We’ll wait until we get full clearance and then probably err on the side of caution, maybe a month or so after that.

Duffy added that Oden has seen a sports psychologist, which makes some sense — all the injuries and all the rehab will take an emotional toll. There have to be doubts and questions in his mind.

Because of his potential, Oden is going to get another shot. Teams just have to consider anything they get from him a bonus at this point. A deal with him is all about keeping the costs (risks) down and hoping for the high-end reward his talent promised.