It seems like ancient history when all the talks surrounding LaMarcus Aldridge were related to him leaving Portland due to his being unhappy with the team and its direction.
The Blazers have been one of the best feel-good stories during the first third of the 2013-14 season. They are currently tied for second in the West with the Oklahoma City Thunder, their lottery pick C.J. McCollum has returned from injury and thankfully they have yet to be hit by the league-wide injury bug that has decimated some rosters — things are lookin’ up.
It’s hard to picture this franchise without the services of LA down on the block (or mainly in the mid-range areas of the court), and while that was starting to look like a harsh reality just half a year ago, things seem to be pointing to Aldridge sticking around for his entire career. LaMarcus sat down with Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune and gave us some insight into his thoughts regarding his future; here are some of the better points.
“I’ve been here a long time now. I’m coming up on some records. I never used to pay attention to those things, but I’ve been watching it more this year. I’m the No. 4 scorer now. That’s cool. To leave a legacy with one team and win a championship here and to be here my whole career, that would be great.”
The last sentence really stuck with me when I read it. Aldridge is a throwback player in many respects: he shoots like 200 mid-range jump shots a game (lost art), he doesn’t scream and yell when he does something amazing on the court and he refrains from openly belittling his teammates, coach and franchise in the media. LaMarcus has long preferred to take care of things in-house, which made last offseason’s “trade request” so puzzling.
In the end, LA wanted what all franchise players want — some help. Neil Olshey gave him that help and Aldridge, and the Blazers, are reaping the benefits. Whether or not he gives the Blazers a hometown discount will be something that plays out sometime during the offseason most likely, but he is set to make a little more than $16 million during the 2014-15 season and if the Blazers are not able to extend him then he will become an unrestricted free agent — free to leave and sign with any organization willing to pay for his services, and there will be many.
Still Aldridge remains steadfast in his approach of being in it with Portland for the long haul.
“I would like to re-sign here. If they want to talk about it, I would talk about it. They haven’t yet, but I’m looking forward to the chance to do that.”
If you are a Portland fan, then this is the only response you want to hear regarding contract extensions with your franchise player who is in the midst of a career year.
However, like most things involving the Blazers’ MVP-candidate, don’t expect to hear about ongoing negotiations regarding this extension. Things will be kept in-house and Olshey confirmed that with this statement as well.
“When the appropriate time comes, which is not now, that is a conversation that will happen between (owner) Paul Allen, myself, LaMarcus and his agent (Arn Tellum). It’s not a conversation that’s going to play out in the media in January.”
Neil Olshey has learned what makes his superstar power forward tick and what gets under his skin, so rest assured things will be handled quietly and discretely.
Seeing LaMarcus Aldridge don the No. 12 jersey for the entirety of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers will certainly etch his name in the pantheon of Blazer greats and with this journey they are going on this season, I believe it will happen sooner rather than later.
**You can contact Chris regarding this article on Twitter: @Chris_Reichert