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News » Portland Trail Blazers Getting Inside 2008-06-18

Portland Trail Blazers Getting Inside 2008-06-18

Portland Trail Blazers Getting Inside 2008-06-18
Greg Oden's surgically repaired knee is progressing at such a clip that he is likely to be ready to play for the Trail Blazers during the 2008-09 exhibition season.

"I totally expect Greg to be able to play in the preseason," says Jay Jensen, soon to begin his 15th season as the Blazer trainer. "How Nate (McMillan, the Portland coach) decides to use him, though, is up to Nate."

The Blazers will continue to go slowly with Oden, who underwent microfracture surgery last September and missed the entire 2007-08 season. They did the same thing with Brandon Roy, who played in only the final two preseason games last year while recovering from a heel injury.

"We're biding our time with Greg," Jensen says. "Our goals this summer with him (include) maintaining his weight, strengthening his legs and letting the healing process continue without him taking a hard pounding.

"He's not fragile, but it has been a long process for him. He has been getting antsy to get back out there, and we have been holding the reins on him."

The 7-foot center, taken as the No. 1 pick in the 2007 draft, is living in Columbus, Ohio, this summer, taking classes at Ohio State. While visiting Portland last week, he twice jogged a half-mile with Jensen.

"But his main cardio work is done on the elliptical machine and treadmill," Jensen says. "He is doing shooting drills and stuff in the halfcourt.

"In August, we'll start having him play one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three. And in September, when the guys come back (for informal voluntary scrimmage sessions), we'll let him start playing full-court games. He'll play maybe every other day, and every other game. The guys usually play six or seven games a day. We'll have him play one game, sit out a game, go back in, sit out, and gradually build him up."

Oden is examined monthly by Blazer team doctor Don Roberts, who has given positive reports.

"The knee looks fabulous," Jensen says, "and his body is unbelievably powerful. His lower extremities are ridiculously powerful."

Jensen guesses Oden weighs between 285 and 290 pounds.

"Once he gets more court activity, he is going to get down to his playing weight, which might be between 275 and 280," the Blazers' veteran trainer says. "But he won't be in basketball shape until he's out there playing basketball."

SEASON HIGHLIGHT: Portland was 5-12 and coming off an embarrassing 100-79 loss to San Antonio Dec. 2 when McMillan decided to let up a little on his young team. With the reins off, the Blazers kicked into a more free-spirited, up-tempo style and promptly ran off the longest winning streak in the NBA at that point.

The 13-game streak saw the Blazers take defined roles. Blue-collar center Joel Przybilla battled for rebounds and blocks down low and forward Travis Outlaw emerged as a sixth man and off-the-bench scoring threat. LaMarcus Aldridge took his place as a secondary scorer next to Brandon Roy, Steve Blake became a reliable distributor of the ball, and Martell Webster and James Jones became the outside shooting threats Portland had been lacking.

TURNING POINT: Portland's luck was probably doomed to change when a favorable December schedule turned tough in January and February. After playing 10 games out of a 13-game stretch in December at the Rose Garden, the Blazers had a seven-game road stretch in January.

The wheels didn't start to come off until they lost eight of nine in the middle of February, and a stretch of six loses in seven games from March 27-April 11 was indicative of a young team that was running out of gas.

Late season injuries to Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Joel Przybilla left the team without a rudder.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: June 18, 2008


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