Oden and his agent could learn from Manning's playbook

October 28, 2010
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Greg Oden and his agent, Indianapolis-based Mike Conley Sr., might want to consider taking a page from the playbook of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning—and zip it.

Manning and his agent, Tom Condon, recently said Manning wouldn’t be discussing a new contract with the Colts because he wants to focus on this season. And he certainly won't be talking to the press about his contract, which expires at the end of this season.

That sort of tact plays well with everyone involved. It’s the sort of thing that earns a player admiration and loyalty from teammates and esteem from fans. Manning’s the best quarterback in team history—possibly league history—so he’s going to get a fat contract.

But Manning’s take on this also will further endear him to Colts owner Jim Irsay, who already has promised to make Manning the league’s highest paid player.

Manning’s business playbook has lots of smart calls and audibles.

Then there’s Oden and Conley. Neither of them should be mentioning Oden’s potential free agency or this upcoming off-season. That only shows their relative inexperience in the world of big-time sports business.

It seems like Oden, an Indianapolis native now playing for the Portland Trailblazers, should be focusing on this season—one game at a time.

Oden is no longer the No. 1 pick of the 2007 draft. Instead, he’s a guy who’s played 82 games in the last three NBA seasons. When he was healthy last year, Oden averaged 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds a game—not exactly all-star numbers.

“If [the Trailblazers] want to give him the money we think he’s worth, he’ll sign,” Conley Sr. told the Indianapolis Star on Wednesday.

Worth?

I’m not sure what a 7-footer who isn’t healthy enough to play one-third of the games is worth. But here’s what Oden should expect: an NBA-minimum contract laden with enough incentives to fill the back of a three-quarter-ton pickup truck. I know, the NBA isn't big on incentive-laden contracts. It should be.

The deadline for NBA teams to sign players to a contract extension is Monday, and if Conley is holding his breath for an offer, he’ll be turning blue very soon.

The looming NBA lockout and Commissioner David Stern’s efforts to significantly reduce player salaries don’t bode well for Oden.

The Trailblazers will pay $6.8 million for his services this year, the last of his rookie contract. An extension would mean Portland would be required to pay Oden $8.8 million next year. The Blazers are clearly worried about Oden’s health and betting that his value is more likely to go down than up.

For those who have watched Oden since his playing days at Lawrence North High School, it’s sad to admit, but that’s a good bet on Portland’s part.

If Oden doesn’t sign an extension with Portland by Monday, he’ll become a restricted free agent at season’s end. That means Portland can match any incoming offer to retain the big man.

But instead of thinking or talking about something eight months away, Oden might want to ponder something a little more immediate—his next game.
 

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  • This concerns me
    For once, I actually agree with one of Anthony's columns.

    I'm not sure that Oden is being served well by his agent, particularly some of the comments he made in the Star article.
  • DUH
    what a GREAT article! These pre-madonnas! I think professional sports have a definate place in our entertainment world, but stupidity does not. And these guys are being stupid! Good for Stern wanting to lower salaries. Too much Need in the world and too much Greed.
  • Low Expectations
    Anyone that has dealt with the agent (who lived in Indy much of the last decade) would relaize this is par for the course. He is not sophistictaed or articulate - mainly connected to one NBA player by DNA and another by those unsavory AAU ties. Mike Senior is trying to play the big boys' game with bluffs and posturing but has little with which to back it up. Both players will still get millions but neither will be in the top echelon (befitting a #1 and #4 pick) as their play does not justify it.
  • a first
    Really CoyoteFan, this is the first time? Well at least I'm consistent. Seriously, though, thanks for reading.
  • Looks like Maverick
    This is what happens when people like Dad, who is not really an agent try to play with the big boys. They think they hold cards that they probably don't have. Look at Maverick Carter and his posse and Lebron James...they don't know what they are doing, so ESPN makes him into a pariah for ratings glory...of course, even Maverick couldn't screw up the money part, Lebron is getting bad PR advice, but he is at least getting paid.
    I see both as guys who will get some money, but not near what Senior thinks...they were fortunate on one end of the age thing...able to be one and done, and get out of college and sign the first contract before Stern's salary cap crusade takes place. Now, it appears, timing, and in Oden's case, injury (he is the NBA's Bob Sanders), will haunt them when they sign either a new contract, or one as a restricted free agent. How will they ever live on $7 million instead of 14? Like Latrell Sprewell said after not being offered a contract extension by Minnesota (he was making 14.6 million at the time), "Why would I want to help them win a title. They're not doing anything for me...I got a family to feed". Now that is the NBA we all know and love, and the one Conley SR. thinks he is in...but it is about to shrink on him a little bit...how sad. He is an agent in name only, and his cut will probably get a lot smaller.
  • Terrible Analysis
    Hey, if you're going to go on moralizing and pontificating about contract issues in the NBA, you should at least know something about the universe you're working with.

    "...hereâ??s what Oden should expect: an NBA-minimum contract laden with enough incentives to fill the back of a three-quarter-ton pickup truck. I know, the NBA isn't big on incentive-laden contracts. It should be."

    If you knew anything about the Collective Bargaining Agreement, you would know that this is not possible. Incentive-based money in an NBA contract is deemed either 'likely' or 'unlikely' to occur. 'Likely' bonuses count against a team's cap. 'Unlikely' bonuses are limited to 25% of overall salary. Get it? A backloaded, mostly incentive-based contract is not really possible, or at least not advantageous to NBA owners, and therefore is unlikely to be used.

    If you'd like to present informed analysis next time, here is a link to NBA cap guru Larry Coon's website.

    http://members.cox.net/lmcoon/salarycap.htm

    Otherwise, you and Peter Vescesy can sit around and hi-five each other as you invent 'awesome' trades that are legally impossible. HTH
  • FINE HIM!
    Oden should be fined by the NBA for his agent's comments.

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