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Sunday, Dec. 11, 2011
Injured Roy forced to quit
PORTLAND, Oregon — All-Star guard Brandon Roy has told Portland he plans on retiring because of ongoing trouble with his knees.
A five-year veteran who helped the team shed its "Jail Blazers" reputation, Roy has been dogged by pain for the past two seasons. He has said in the past that he lacks cartilage between the bones in both knees.
The Trail Blazers were still working out the details of Roy's medical retirement, but players were informed of his surprising decision on Friday morning before the team's first practice of training camp.
"I couldn't believe it," Blazers forward Nicolas Batum said. "I still can't believe it."
Roy did not report to the Blazers' practice facility on Friday and his agent did not respond to requests for comment on his retirement plans, first reported by ESPN.com early Friday.
NBA spokesman Tim Frank said the 27-year-old Roy had not yet filed the appropriate paperwork with the league.
Coach Nate McMillan spoke to Roy on Thursday night and described him as disappointed.
"Of course, we know what he means to this franchise. He was part of bringing it back, bringing back winning basketball," McMillan said. "Unbelievable talent. You're sad to see a situation like this happen."
It sounded as if Roy was ready to go when Blazers president Larry Miller, McMillan and acting general manager Chad Buchanan held a news conference on Monday. Roy had met with team officials earlier that day and said he felt good and was ready to help the team in any way he could.
But it became apparent during a medical evaluation on Thursday that Roy's knees were not going to be able to handle another season.
"It's a tough situation," Blazers center Marcus Camby said. "People will say 'Hey, he'll get his money.' But Brandon's a competitor."
There was speculation the Blazers might try to use the league's new amnesty clause on Roy, who signed a five-year maximum contract with the team in 2009. The clause would allow the team to waive Roy without having his salary count against the salary cap and luxury tax.
If the 27-year-old Roy files for medical retirement, insurance likely would take care of his salary in coming years. His salary would not count against the cap after one year.
Roy sat for stretches of last season because of soreness. He had arthroscopic surgery on both knees last January and finished the season with a career-low average of 12.2 points in 47 games.
Roy averaged 19 points, 4.7 assists and 4.3 rebounds for his career.
The sixth overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Washington, Roy was acquired by the Blazers in a draft-day trade. The 2007 NBA Rookie of the Year made the All-Star team from 2008-2010.
Nicknamed "The Natural" by the team's broadcasters, Roy has been the affable face of the franchise and remains popular among Portland fans.
In last season's first-round playoff series against the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, Roy shook off the pain and led Portland to a stunning 84-82 comeback victory in Game 4. He scored 18 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Blazers erased a 23-point deficit.
But when it was over, Roy sounded defeated.
"This has just been a tough year, my most difficult as a Blazer," he said. "I tried to make the most of things. I can definitely say I honestly tried. I've given this team my best."
On Friday, Camby pointed up to the retired jerseys lining the rafters of the Blazers' practice facility.
"His number belongs up there," Camby said. "That's all I can say."
Oden's deal redone
PORTLAND, OREGON — The Portland Trail Blazers and Greg Oden agreed to a restructured one-year contract after the oft-injured center had another setback during his rehabilitation from microfracture surgery on his troublesome left knee.
The new contract was announced Friday after the Blazers opened training camp. A day earlier, Oden's agent reported the former No. 1 draft pick had agreed to the $8.9 million qualifying offer that Portland offered on June 29.
There had been speculation Oden might be able to play in late January but Blazers acting general manager Chad Buchanan said a medical exam on Thursday led to some concerns.
"We're hopeful that Greg can get back out on the court this year — maybe not quite as optimistic as we were before — but we feel like Greg Oden is worth that risk for one more year," Buchanan said.
Oden's condition wasn't the only health-related issue as the Blazers opened camp.
Forward LaMarcus Aldridge underwent a heart procedure on Friday that will keep him out for up to two weeks.
The 213-cm Oden hasn't appeared in a game in two years. He is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent following this season.
The terms of his new deal were not announced, and the nature of the setback was not disclosed by the team. Oden was examined by doctors in Colorado on Thursday and had an MRI.