Blazers GMs says Aldridge is happy, scoffs at trade rumors

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Portland has a LaMarcus Aldridge issue to deal with — there are reports he is unhappy and his people have come to the Blazers proposing trades. Aldridge has denied all of this. Of course, if you’re an unhappy player it is best to have your agent and others do this kind of legwork while you deny it and remain above the fray.

Or, maybe none of that is true. Maybe he is happy in Portland.

That is what Portland GM Neil Olshey is selling — Aldridge is happy with the Trail Blazers, the Trail Blazers are happy with him and these trade rumors only come from bored media members.

Here is what Olshey told Craig Birnbach of KATU about these trade rumors, as transcribed at Blazers Edge.

“I think it comes from all you [media] — everybody fighting to be first with inaccurate information. I can tell you, LaMarcus Aldridge, you guys have known him longer than I have. And if he had asked to be traded, he would have told people that he asked to be traded. He never asked to be traded….

“I think last year was a tough year for everybody. Portland is not a market that accepts losing. We’d tried not to rebuild but we always tried to be somewhat judicious in terms of how much future flexibility we gave away. To be honest with you, that’s the results of this offseason. Had we done more minor moves and put more assets in play, moved more draft picks, there wouldn’t have been a [Thomas] Robinson or a Robin Lopez. If we had given long-term deals to guys we weren’t totally sure on, there wouldn’t have been a Mo Williams today.”

Aldridge has two years left on his deal.

The Blazers had a fantastic offseason — they needed depth and added Lopez to play the five, allowing Aldridge to play his more natural four, plus guys like Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright and C.J. McCollum will add punch off the bench. The Blazers are going to be in the playoff mix out West (which is a crowded mix in a deep conference).

Even if Aldridge is frustrated and is considering leaving, Olshey is right to play it slow here — there are not a lot of All-Star forwards with diverse games like Aldridge around. See if you can convince him that he can win and make a name for himself there. If you have to move him, you have time.

Tyronn Lue says he has secret plan to fix Cavaliers’ defense for playoffs

AP Photo/Phil Long
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Only one team that ranked outside the top 12 in points allowed per possession during the regular season won an NBA title. The 2000-01 Lakers, who were 21st in defensive rating, are the lone outlier.

The Cavaliers rank 22nd in defensive rating this season and have been even worse lately.

But Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue says he has a plan. He just won’t reveal it yet.

Lue, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com:

“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.”

Also:

“I think the rebounding hurt us. Rebounding. But it will be different once some other things happen. … Their two-guards, their threes, they still crashed the boards. But we have something to fix that. Just not right now.”

What precisely those plans are, Lue wouldn’t tell us. And here’s the other part — he’s not exactly sure they’ll work.

“I’m not confident, but we’ve got to” get the defense fixed, Lue said. “We have to.”

The Cavs ranked just 10th in defensive rating last season, among the worst marks for an eventual champion. But they cranked up their defense in the playoffs, especially late. Cleveland held the Raptors 4.8 points per 100 possessions below their regular-season scoring rate and the Warriors 7.8 below theirs.

Lue also unleashed a 3-point-heavy attack in the playoffs last year after sitting on the strategy through the regular season.

So, I have some faith Lue will implement a better defensive gameplan when it counts. It also helps to have LeBron James, who can still play elite defense when not in the slog of a long regular season.

But the Cavaliers’ defensive deficiencies right now are glaring. This roster appears to lack defensive potential, and their many miscues keep them well below whatever that potential is.

The challenge in elevating this defense to championship-caliber will be immense, maybe even unprecedented.

Mavericks’ Salah Mejri dunks while getting shoved in the gut (video)

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The Mavericks built a 13-point lead over the Thunder with 3:30left thanks to plays like this Salah Mejri dunk on Nick Collison.

Unfortunately for Dallas, Russell Westbrook happened.

Willy Hernangomez dunks on Andre Drummond, Pistons’ playoff chances (video)

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Andre Drummond and the Pistons couldn’t slow down anything.

Not Willy Hernangomez. Not the Knicks. Not Detroit’s plummeting playoff hopes.

After a 109-95 loss to the Knicks last night, the Pistons — who’ve lost four straight and seven of eight — are 1.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.

Terrence Ross 360 dunks his way back into Raptors fans’ hearts (video)

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In his first appearance in Toronto since the Raptors traded him to the Magic, Terrence Ross did what he has done best throughout his career: Delight Toronto fans with a dunk.

And of course the fans appreciated it, because their Raptors cruised to a 131-112 win.