Blazers GM: No Regrets Drafting Greg Oden Over Kevin Durant

by February 21, 2012
269


When news broke that Greg Oden wouldn’t be playing basketball this season last night, the Blazers’ front-office faced the inevitable question regarding their infamous decision to draft Oden over Kevin Durant, and they once again stuck to their guns (God bless ’em .) From CBS Sports: “For the first time since the Blazers selected him in 2007, Oden even faces the prospect of being released outright by a team that has remained endlessly loyal as he’s missed the equivalent of four of his first five seasons in the league. With three microfracture surgeries, a fractured left patella and a February arthroscopic procedure on his right knee now in his past, the chances that he is ever able to step foot on an NBA court have never been smaller. Despite the five knee surgeries, Oden has banked more than $23 million despite playing just 82 total regular season games and he has outlasted the GM who drafted him, Kevin Pritchard, and the GM who followed Pritchard, Rich Cho. The Blazers have not appointed a full-time replacement for Cho, who was fired last May, but Chad Buchanan, the team’s Director of College Scouting, has been named Acting GM for this season. Buchanan, then in his mid-30s, was present in the 2007 war room, when the 7-foot center out of Ohio State had just finished leading the Buckeyes to the NCAA title game and promised to help a team that had fortuitously jumped up the lottery ladder to earn the right to choose between him and Durant. […] ‘I was very excited,’ he said. ‘A chance to draft a player who could potentially get your franchise to your ultimate goal. Looking back on it, we were all excited. We had visions of Greg being a great player for us for years to come.’ As Oden has been sidelined, Durant’s star has soared faster and higher than even his biggest pre-draft proponents expected. Rookie of the Year, 3-time All-Star, 2-time scoring champion, MVP candidate, plus a trip to the 2011 Western Conference Finals and the promise of future postseason success. But just like his predecessors and Blazers president Larry Miller before him, Buchanan said that he still stands by the team’s selection of Oden over Durant. ‘Looking back on it, I would still draft Greg,’ he said. ‘Hindsight, it’s easy to make an assumption [now]… You can’t predict the injuries that would come. Going back on it, I wouldn’t have changed anything in drafting Greg.’ Asked if the decision was unanimous among those in the room, Buchanan politely declined to reply.”