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.