Around the NBA: Oden optimistic about recovery

Mike Popovich

Greg Oden has everything but a training camp he can participate in starting next week.

With his worst nightmare behind him, the Trail Blazers center already is looking forward to getting back on the court.

Oden made his first public comments since season-ending microfracture knee surgery in a video posted on his blog, Yardbreaker. The video shows the former Ohio State star and No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft briefly showing the knee where three incisions were made.

“It’s pretty ugly, pretty fat, but it’s coming along,” Oden said. “I’m working really hard to come back, and I just want to thank everybody for their support.

“It’s gonna be a long rehab time. But when I come back, I hope to better than ever.”

The video also shows Oden’s living room, where his bed has been placed while he recovers.

“A couch, the other couch, a big old TV and all my DVDs are over there somewhere,” Oden said. “But this is the bed. Instead of having a living room table, I got a bed.”

One More Shot

Penny Hardaway’s career has not been the same since he underwent microfracture knee surgery in 2000. The Magic waived him during the 2005-06 season, and he did not play in the NBA last year.

Hardaway hopes to make an impact with the Heat this season. The 36-year-old signed a contract that is not guaranteed, but he plans on staying for a while.

“There was no way I was going to give up on it now that I’m feeling better,” Hardaway told the Miami Herald. “They don’t know how healthy I am.”

Hardaway has fought to come back, but other players, such as Amare Stoudemre and Jason Kidd, have been able to quickly recover from microfracture surgery.

This is my Team

Spurs guard Tony Parker plans to continue playing for France even though the national team will not compete at the Olympics.

Slovenia beat France, 88-74, at the European Championships to earn the final berth for European teams to next year’s pre-Olympic qualifying tournament. France won the silver medal at the 2000 Games but also did not qualify for the 2004 Summer Olympics.

“We were looking for some stability and to try to the Olympics, and now we are back at zero,” Parker told the Web site EuroBasket2007.org. “It’s kind of tough. We just have to use this as experience.”

Parker averaged 20.1 points at the European Championships. The NBA Finals MVP was trying reach the Olympics for the first time.

“It’s very disappointing,” Parker said. “You don’t have a lot of chances to go to the Olympics. That was my second, and we didn’t make it, so I’ll try again.”

Live From New York …

LeBron James will host the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” on Saturday.

The appearance comes a few months after the Cavaliers forward co-hosted the ESPY Awards with comedian and talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

Pippen Finland-Bound?

Reuters reports that former Bulls star Scottie Pippen is close to signing a two-game contract with Finland’s Torpan Pojat.

Pippen, 41, would play in December or January. General manager Aleksi Valavuori would not reveal how much Pippen would be paid.

“We are discussing details now, such as when and in which matches he will play,” Valavuori told Reuters. “He would be the best player ever to have played for Europe.”

Dennis Rodman played one game for Torpan Pojat two years ago.

Off the Air

The Hornets’ efforts to expand their fan base during their first full season back in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina took a hit this week.

The 200,000 residents of St. Tammany, a parish north of the city, will not be able to watch Hornets games after Cox Sports Television and Charter Communications failed to agree on a new contract. The games were available as part of a sports tier package that involved a fee since 2003.

A Cox Sports Television executive told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that the network is involved in talks with DirecTV and Dish Network.

Reach Canton Repository sports writer Mike Popovich at (330) 580-8341 or mike.popovich@cantonrep.com.