LaMarcus Aldridge Wants Trade From Blazers, Deems Portland Too Small
By Jason Quick, The Oregonian
Throughout this summer, there have been rumors the Trail Blazers might trade LaMarcus Aldridge, and I’m not the least bit surprised.
Not that I believe general manager Neil Olshey is looking to move the star power forward. But I believe Aldridge wants out.
Will it result in a trade during Thursday’s NBA Draft?
I doubt it, unless it includes Portland getting either Atlanta’s Al Horford, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, New Jersey’s Brook Lopez, or the Clippers’ Blake Griffin.
See, Aldridge wants to end his seven-year run with the Blazers because he thinks Portland is too small. Too boring.
But Olshey is not in the business to make players happy. He is in the business of making the Blazers better. And if there has been one consistent with Aldridge throughout his seven years in Portland, it’s that he puts up somewhere around 21 points and 8 rebounds a game whether he is happy, unhappy or indifferent to what direction the Blazers are headed.
Still, it is an interesting proposition for Olshey as he embarks on his second summer of reshaping the franchise. Aldridge has two years remaining on his contract in Portland. He has no leverage to demand a trade right now. But he will after this season, when he can enter his final season in Portland with a threat to walk into free agency, leaving the Blazers with nothing in return, except for some salary cap relief.
So it might be wise for Olshey to shop Aldridge and see what he could net in return. If it’s not a Horford, or a Davis, then play on. Get another All-Star caliber season out of Aldridge.
With the arrival of today’s draft, I have no idea if Olshey will deal Aldridge. But I am convinced Aldridge would not only welcome a trade, but is hoping for a trade. Had that feeling since the last week of the 2012-2013 season.
The day before the end of the 2012-2013 season, before a game at the Clippers in Los Angeles, some third-hand knowledge had been passed down to me on my way to the arena: Aldridge was unhappy in Portland and wanted out. So I cornered the Trail Blazers star outside the locker room, before the game, and asked how he felt about Portland.
“What do you mean, feel?’’ Aldridge asked warily.
“How do you feel about the city, the team?’’
“I’m fine,’’ he said shortly.
I told him he didn’t sound very convincing.
“I’m fine,’’ he repeated. “I had one season that was tough, it’s a building year and right now, I’m not going to get into it. This season was better than we thought it would be, it ended rough, but I haven’t gotten into that mindset of evaluating things.’’
I asked him what he meant when he said he ‘wasn’t going to get into it.’
“I mean, I’m fine. I know a lot of questions are about to come up about my happiness and this and that, but I’m fine. We had a tough season and now we just have to wait until the summertime and see what the next step is.’’
As we leaned against a wall, and other players walked in and out of the locker room, I asked Aldridge if he had asked to be traded or anything along those lines.
“No,’’ he said. “We haven’t talked about that.’’
Do you want to be moved?
“I’m fine. Like I said, it was a tough season, but I’m not trying to jump ship. We will sit down and we will talk about who we are going to bring in, and what things will happen and we will go from there.’’
We went back and forth. I told him it had been relayed to me that he didn’t re-up with any of his Portland sponsorships and deals, agreements that in the past included Cadillac, Chevy, and Providence Hospital. And that it had been relayed to me that he was asking to get out of a lease on his Pearl District condo.
It had the appearance that Aldridge was putting his affairs in order. Preparing for a clean break from Portland and the Blazers.
He said it was correct that he didn’t sign any sponsorship deals this winter, but that had nothing to do with his desire to stay in Portland.
“I just didn’t want to do anything this year,’’ Aldridge said. “Being in Portland for seven years, I have done everything I can do, so I’m just waiting it out to see if there is anything I like. I’ve done car deals, all types of stuff. So I’m just chillin.’’’
He said he was looking to cancel his condo in the Pearl because he used it for his family when they visit him during the season. He didn’t see a reason to keep it during the summer.
“People are going to read into whatever I do,’’ Aldridge said.
He said he would reserve any declarations until he meet with Olshey after the season, and then he would gauge where he stood with the Blazers.
“That’s the plan,’’ Aldridge said.
If he didn’t like what he heard from the GM?
“I will cross that bridge when we get there. I can’t do what-ifs. Right now, he is telling me he is going to bring guys in over the summer, so we will talk about it and go from there. If we are not on the same page, we will figure it out.’’
After the game, I approached Aldridge again, this time in the locker room. I asked more questions about his past sponsorships and why he suddenly this year decided not to renew any of them. And since our pregame talk, I had received more information, again through a third party: He was trying to put a clause into his lease that if he was traded, he wouldn’t have to pay penalties for breaking the lease early.
Aldridge was irritated.
“This is why I hate being in Portland,’’ he told me. “You can’t do anything.’’
The next night was the season finale in Portland, and I asked Olshey about Aldridge. Turns out, the two already had quite the face-to-face meeting about two weeks prior. Much was said. But on the record, Olshey would only give generalities.
“It’s the end of a long season,’’ Olshey said. “He hasn’t made any trade demands. But if there is one thing I can say, it’s I empathize with what LaMarcus is going through. This is the fourth genesis that he has lived through: From the Jail Blazers, to a youth movement, to a bunch of aging veterans, to this. It’s not easy for him.’’
How was Olshey going to handle Aldridge moving forward?
“Well, I’ll tell you this: I’m not going to be making any phone calls to move him,’’ Olshey said. “But if the phone rings and it makes the team better ...’’
Today, we will find out if Olshey ever got that call.