LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus  Camby

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


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.

Gallinari ready to take big role in new Nuggets offense

Danilo Gallinari, Jimmy Butler
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DENVER (AP) — Danilo Gallinari wants everyone to know this: His surgically repaired left knee, the one that took three procedures to fix and nearly two seasons to fully trust, no longer bothers him.

The Denver Nuggets forward doesn’t need to be on any sort of minutes restriction. He doesn’t need days off during the season. And he certainly doesn’t need to be coddled.

He’s Gallo again, the hard-to-guard Italian playmaker who can knock down the 3-pointer just as easily as drive to the hoop or even post up. He believes he will fit in quite nicely into new coach Michael Malone’s system.

“The thing I’m focused on is trying to get (this team) back to the same level that the Nuggets were when I got to Denver, when we were going to the playoffs easy. When we were clinching a playoff one or two weeks before the season was over,” said Gallinari, who was acquired in the 2011 blockbuster deal that sent Carmelo Anthony to the New York Knicks. “We need to get back to that level.”

Almost seems so long ago, given that the Nuggets have missed the playoffs two straight seasons after consistently making it for nearly a decade.

Gallinari returned last season for the first time since blowing out his knee in a game on April 4, 2013. His minutes were closely monitored early in the season. He never really got completely on track until late last season, when he averaged 20.5 points over the final 10 contests, including a career-high 47 against Dallas. He’s hoping to carry that kind of confidence this season.

“I’m good to go. I was good to go as soon as the beginning of last year,” Gallinari said. “I was not on the same page with the coach that we had.”

That would be Brian Shaw, who was fired last March after 1 1/2 seasons in charge and going 56-85. Exactly why he wasn’t on the same page with Shaw, well, Gallinari preferred the past remain the past.

“I’m ready to play the new season,” he said. “We need to win games, and get back to the same level we were before.”

Gallinari thinks the Nuggets have the personnel to do just that, especially with a rookie point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and Gallinari’s knee feeling better than it has in a while. He feels like he has some ground to make up, too, since he said that knee robbed him of some of his prime.

“Playing my best basketball right before I got injured,” the 27-year old said. “Now, we’re back to the same level, hopefully better.

“My knee has been feeling great. It felt great last year. Feeling great during the summer. Feeling great now. I just feel good.”

He spent the summer playing for the Italian team at the EuroBasket tournament, where he averaged nearly 18 points a game. In those games, Gallinari saw quite a bit of time at the four spot on the floor, forcing teams to either use a bulkier big man to cover him and risk getting burned on a drive or a smaller player that Gallinari could simply shoot over.

Malone plans to employ a similar type approach, something they discussed over gelato when the coach visited Gallinari in Italy soon after he was hired.

“He’s 6-foot-10. He can handle the ball. He can play pick-and-roll. He can stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Malone said. “There’s not a lot he can’t do offensively.”

Gallinari wants the responsibility of being the go-to player for the Nuggets this season, especially at crunch time.

“I’ve always been trying to do that, since I came to Denver,” Gallinari said. “That’s what I like to do. I feel good filling those shoes.

“I want to have the ball in my hands. I do want to have the ball in my hands a lot more.”

Knicks’ Rookie Jerian Grant gets up, throws it down (VIDEO)

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The Knicks did well trading for Jerian Grant on date night — he’s going to be able to walk in this year and play quality minutes off the bench.

And, he can get up and throw it down.

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to lead the Knicks to a 94-88 win over the Sixers.