Center Greg Oden, Portland’s often-injured former No. 1 draft pick, will sign the Trail Blazers’ $8.9 million qualifying offer on Friday, Oden’s agent said.
Agent Bill Duffy confirmed Thursday that Oden would sign the one-year deal when the team opens training camp.
The deal means that Oden will become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Oden’s acceptance of the offer was first reported by The Oregonian newspaper.
Oden is coming off of microfracture surgery on his left knee. An earlier microfracture surgery on his right knee postponed his rookie season after the Blazers took the 7-foot center with the first pick of the 2007 NBA draft.
The Trail Blazers would not comment on the deal, which cannot be formally completed until Friday.
The Blazers made the qualifying offer on June 29. Oden could either accept the offer, or wait to see if other teams were interested in him. The Blazers would have three days to match any other offers.
But Oden, who was in Colorado having his knee examined on Thursday, opted to remain with the team that drafted him.
Because of various injuries, the former Ohio State star has played in only 82 games over parts of two seasons, averaging 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds. In addition to the two season-ending microfracture surgeries, Oden broke his left kneecap and sat out much of the 2009-10 season.
It is not expected that Oden will be able to practice right away. The Blazers open training camp for the lockout-shortened season on Friday, and the first of two preseason games against the Utah Jazz is set for Dec. 19 at the Rose Garden.
The Blazers open the season at home against Philadelphia on Dec. 26.
Earlier this week, acting general manager Chad Buchanan discussed the prospects of having Oden return to Portland. ”We’ve shown a lot of commitment to Greg both on and off the court and I think Greg feels like he has some unfinished business here,” Buchanan said.
There was speculation that Oden might be able to play in late January or early February. Buchanan said that decision would be made by Oden.
”As far as his timetable for return, we’re going to support Greg. When he’s ready to play, he’s ready to play. We’re not going to put a date on his return,” Buchanan said earlier this week. ”Greg is in a good place with his recovery, his mindset, we want to continue to support him and when he’s ready to step on the floor, we’ll know he’s ready.”
After the Blazers selected Oden, choosing him over Kevin Durant, he was hailed as the future of the franchise as it emerged from the so-called Jail-Blazers era.
But his numerous injuries have subjected him to endless comparisons to Sam Bowie, the frequently injured big man whom the Blazers infamously selected ahead of Michael Jordan in the 1984 draft.
Earlier this week, the Blazers announced that three-time All-Star Brandon Roy would be with the team in training camp, dispelling reports that the team was going to use the league’s new amnesty clause on him.
Roy, who has a maximum contract with the Blazers, was plagued by knee problems last season and has said he lacks cartilage in both knees.
The amnesty clause allows teams to waive a player without having his future salary count against the cap and the luxury tax.