Oden looks good in workout with Blazers

Updated: March 13, 2008, 11:10 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Greg Oden practiced with the Portland Trail Blazers for the first time since right knee surgery ended the No. 1 draft pick's debut season before it started six months ago.

[+] EnlargeGreg Oden
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesPortland's Greg Oden, watching from the bench at Milwaukee earlier this month, practiced with the Blazers for 45 minutes.

Oden, the 7-foot center from Ohio State taken with the top selection in last year's draft, surprised his teammates Wednesday when he participated in offensive drills and even dunked during 45 minutes of half-speed work. The Blazers were in Sacramento for Thursday night's game against the Kings.

"Yeah, it was nice," Oden said after lifting weights Thursday in Sacramento. "I learned some of the plays that I'm not going to use, but it was good to be out there with the guys and go through some of the stuff that they go through."

Only coach Nate McMillan and athletic trainer Jay Jensen knew Oden would be in practice Wednesday for the first time since undergoing microfracture surgery in September.

"They made some comments about it," McMillan said of his players. "They laughed about it and said 'Hey, finally you're here to work.'"

The Blazers have stayed in contention for a playoff berth without their future franchise center. Led by All-Star Brandon Roy, Portland is in 10th place in the Western Conference.

Oden said he felt no discomfort in his knee after the workout. The Blazers still have no intention of allowing him to play this season, however.

"We just changed up his workout," McMillan said. "He's been doing a little light running for about a week or so now, and that's all it was yesterday, some light running. The only difference [was that] he was with the team."

Roy said Oden's surprise participation in practice gave the Blazers a lift and a look ahead to next season.

"It almost brought it back to preseason when he was in the gym working out and there was that buzz," Roy told The Oregonian. "I mean, this season wasn't bad, but you can still tell that he's going to be something special, and that's exciting. You think about all the players we can have next season, and you know, it's going to be all right. It's going to be cool."

After going through plays and drills with his teammates, Oden worked out one-on-one with Blazers assistant Maurice Lucas.

"Yeah, I got a couple of dunks, because at the end, [Lucas] was just getting out of the way," Oden said, according to The Oregonian. "But [McMillan] didn't want me to go hard, because I'm not cleared to go all the way hard. It's just me getting out there and learning the plays. But I'd like to start doing that more often."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.