by Marcel Mutoni

When it comes to the NBA Draft, the conventional wisdom around the League is as follows: If a “sure-thing” big man is available, you take him. It doesn’t matter if another otherworldly talent – a guy whose lone collegiate season proved that he has a legitimate shot to go down as one of the most gifted offensive players ever – is up for grabs. In June, the Portland Trailblazers used this logic to select Greg Oden over Kevin Durant.

NBA teams are so enamored with seven footers that they’ll do anything to get their hands on them. This includes ignoring tell-tell signs that the big man in question may not be 100% healthy. According to a few NBA execs, this is what happened in Portland prior to the draft. From Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski (who broke the story of Oden’s season-ending injury):

“From our (trainers and doctors), there were red flags everywhere,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “It wouldn’t have stopped us from drafting him but it would’ve probably made us pause about making a deal to move up and get him,” he said.

“Our trainers did say they thought he had somewhat of an issue (with the right knee), but they weren’t sure to what extent,” one Western Conference executive said. “I guess we’re starting to see now that it’s more serious than some people thought.”

All in all, one Eastern Conference personnel man said, “It was not a good physical.”

The crazy thing in all of this is that, according to Wojnarowski’s sources anyway, both Portland and Seattle would still have taken Oden with the first overall pick. I don’t get it.