Wojnarowski: Lamarcus Aldridge will be in Portland for the foreseeable future

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There were reports earlier this summer that LaMarcus Aldridge was unhappy, and wanted out of Portland. The way the team has performed during his seven years there, the frustration level is somewhat understandable.

The Blazers have only made the playoffs in three of those seasons, and were first round losers every single time. The last two years have been directionless at best, although the rebuilding project is off to a strong start after Damian Lillard was dazzling last season in a Rookie of the Year campaign.

Aldridge predictably denied the initial report that he wanted to leave, but did admit to a level of dissatisfaction with the whole situation. But no matter his feelings, Aldridge is likely stuck in Portland for now, as detailed in a recent radio interview by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (via BlazersEdge):

“I think [Aldridge] is going to be in Portland in the foreseeable future. I don’t know what leverage he has right now. He’s got two years left on his deal. A lot can change in two years in the NBA, a lot can change in one year. Listen, at the end of these two years, maybe as a free agent, he decides to leave, maybe Portland moves him at the trade deadline before he leaves, before he can leave.

“But I don’t see them… I just don’t think Neil Olshey will trade him for pennies on the dollar. If there’s a star attraction, if there’s a guy they can bring back, a guy to build around, of course they’ll do it, but I don’t know if LaMarcus Aldridge is commanding that kind of value out on the market right now. Certainly there are teams who want him, but what are they willing to give up?”

Leverage is the key issue here, and Aldridge has zero. He’s on the books for $14.8 million this year and $16 million the next, which is a hefty price to pay for what he might be able to bring to another team’s roster.

Next season he’ll be on an expiring deal, and teams may be willing to give up some assets in exchange for the future salary cap relief that his contract would bring. But Aldridge will be eight years into his career at that point, and will likely be looking to get himself into more of a consistent winning situation. And that’s something that might not be available to him until he becomes an unrestricted free agent two years from now.

Interviewer: LeBron James wasn’t dissing Kyrie Irving

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LeBron James on Isaiah Thomas, via Howard Beck of Bleacher Report:

“It’s been a while since I’ve had that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time,” James told B/R Mag.

That looked like a shot at Kyrie Irving. But with more context, it clearly wasn’t.

Beck:

It seems LeBron was saying it’s been a while that he’s had “that clear-cut guy who can get guys involved but also score at the same time.” If he was slighting Kyrie Irving, LeBron was also slighting Dwyane Wade – and I doubt LeBron would do that.

LeBron and Kyrie probably aren’t above taking subtle shots at each other. But this seems like a case of Beck, after hearing LeBron’s words aloud and in context, not realizing how a trimmed version would read as text. It’s unfortunate that people initially got the wrong impression, but good on Beck for clearing it up.

Missouri: Potential No. 1 pick Michael Porter Jr. likely out for rest of season

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Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. – maybe the top contender to supplant European guard Luka Doncic as the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft – had his campaign undercut after it barely began.

Missouri Basketball:

Michael Porter, Jr. will undergo surgery on Tuesday, Nov. 21, in Dallas, Texas. The procedure, a microdiscectomy of the L3 and L4 spinal discs, has a projected recovery time of three-four months and will likely cause him to miss the remainder of the season. Michael is expected to make a complete recovery

With that timeline, it’s possible Porter returns late in Missouri’s NBA season. But as an elite draft prospect stuck in a cartel system that caps his compensation well below market value, he should probably be cautious.

Porter will likely still go high in the draft – if his medicals check out. This is is a serious injury, and teams will be wary off long-term effects.

But he’s a top talent, and the forward shouldn’t slip far. In fact, in a strange way, this injury could even help him. There were questions about Porter’s ability to handle physicality and tight spaces when the game slows down, challenges he would have met frequently in college basketball. Now, scouts can’t pick apart those aspects of his game. Logically or not, NBA teams tend to favor the unknown in the draft, and Porter is on his way to being one of the biggest mysteries near the top of the 2018 draft.

Kevin Durant reverses course: Playing Thunder ‘just a regular game for me now’

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Kevin Durant said last season playing the Thunder is “never going to be a regular game for me.”

Now, the Warriors star, who’s questionable for tomorrow’s game in Oklahoma City, is singing a different tune.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic:

Durant:

Just a regular game for me now. I learned how to tune out the crowd. I learned how to tune out the bulls— and just play. Just keep at basketball, and I’ll be alright.

Durant is entitled to change his mind, and maybe that’s all that happened.

But this strikes me as yet another chasm between how Durant actually feels and how he wishes he felt – all while facing immense public scrutiny.

Durant spent eight years in Oklahoma City. Many of his former teammates, including Russell Westbrook, are still there. Durant might want to move on, but how could there not be a different feeling when playing the Thunder, especially in Oklahoma City?

Tony Allen: Russell Westbrook flopped to draw DeMarcus Cousins

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DeMarcus Cousins got ejected from the Pelicans’ win over the Thunder last night for elbowing Russell Westbrook in the head.

Afterward, Tony Allen came to his New Orleans teammate’s defense.

Fred Katz of The Norman Transcript:

Did Cousins elbow Westbrook in the head? Yes. Did Westbrook create and/or embellish the contact? I don’t know.

Westbrook stuck his head in close, and he might have been baiting Cousins into a foul. But that doesn’t give Cousins carte blanche to commit a foul.

And even if Westbrook were baiting Cousins, the elbow still might have hurt. Westbrook’s reaction could have been genuine.

Did Cousins’ reputation as a flagrant fouler influence Westbrook’s strategy and how officials perceived the play? It’s much easier to convince me of that.