- Marc Stein, ESPN Senior Writer
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Greg Oden's time with the Portland Trail Blazers, which effectively ended in February when it was announced that he would soon be undergoing his third microfracture knee surgery, is officially over now.
The Blazers waived Oden Thursday because they needed to create roster room to accommodate all the Portland players acquired earlier in the day in separate trades with New Jersey and Houston.
In his five pro seasons since the Blazers selected him No. 1 overall ahead of Kevin Durant in the 2007 NBA draft, Oden has appeared in only 82 games and endured five knee surgeries.
ESPN.com reported in December that Oden's salary for this season was negotiated down from nearly $9 million to $1.5 million after yet another health setback. The Blazers were then forced to announce last month that Oden would need another microfracture procedure on his left knee and kept him on the roster until now, sources said, partly because they thought they might need to plug Oden's contract into a deal before Thursday's 3 p.m. trade deadline.
When the deadline passed with the Blazers acquiring guard Jonny Flynn and the expiring contracts of Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and Hasheem Thabeet and shedding veterans Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby, they decided to waive Oden and young center Chris Johnson to make the roster numbers work.
It remains to be seen whether Oden, because of his modest salary, is claimed on waivers even though he isn't expected to try to resume his career until well into the 2012-13 season.
When asked about Oden's future plans and whether he will be pressing to find a new team during free agency starting in July, agent Bill Duffy and Mike Conley Sr. said in a statement Thursday: "We will be in no rush. The first priority is Greg's health ... with no timeline."
Blazers interim GM Chad Buchanan, director of college scouting when Oden was drafted, told Portland reporters last month: "Looking back on it, I would still draft Greg. [With] 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."
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