LaMarcus Aldridge will return to Trail Blazers lineup Thursday

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The Trail Blazers need LaMarcus Aldridge back.

Portland is 3-8 in their last 11 and lost to lowly Orlando on Tuesday. They have slid down to fifth in the Western Conference, given up home court in the first round, and now find themselves just two games ahead of nine seed Dallas (tied with 8 seed Phoenix) and the possibility of sliding out of the playoffs completely.

Portland need’s it’s All-Star power forward — and they will get him back Thursday night against Atlanta reports Chris Haynes at CSNNW.com.

“I’m going,” Aldridge said after shootaround Thursday. “We’ll see how it goes, but I’m going.”

Aldridge missed seven games after a hard fall on his back in a game against the Spurs. What kept him out longer than expected? It hurt to run.

“It’s (running) still not normal but hopefully by tonight, I’ll be used to it or I’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ll see what happens tonight or how I’ll look.”

It hasn’t been one thing during Portland’s slide, both their offense and defense have struggled. Aldridge and his 23.4 points and 11.1 rebounds a game, his floor spacing on offense and solid play on defense, can help change that.

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Portland has 10 games left, four on the road (including the Hawks Thursday) and five against teams over .500. Not a tough schedule, you would think Portland could hold on to its playoff spot. Getting Aldridge back makes that much more likely.

PBT Extra: One last mock draft of NBA lottery

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DeAndre Ayton will go No. 1 to the Phoenix Suns Thursday night. Marvin Bagley III probably goes second to Sacramento (but that’s not a lock).

After that, things get wide open in the 2018 NBA Draft. Teams value different players at very different levels this year, and there are going to be a number of trades.

Which makes putting together a mock draft for this year more random than a roulette wheel. Not that it stopped me. Here is my final mock draft for the 14 lottery picks. I present it without much confidence, but I’m throwing it out there anyway.

Report: Dewayne Dedmon opts in for $6.3 million with Hawks

AP Photo/Todd Kirkland
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The Hawks’ rebuild got going with big John Collins. Though they’re reportedly eying Luka Doncic with the No. 3 pick, they could easily draft another big – Jaren Jackson Jr., Mohamed Bamba, Marvin Bagley or Wendell Carter.

And then there’s veteran center Dewayne Dedmon.

He no longer fits in Atlanta (never did, really). But he’s not bypassing a chance to earn $6.3 million.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

There just wasn’t going to be that much money for the 28-year-old Dedmon in a tight market this summer.

Dedmon is a good defender, and he developed his ball skills – as a 3-point shooter and passer – in Atlanta last season. The Hawks could look to trade him. Maybe, in a deal primarily about his expiring contract, he adds extra value to the other team due to his playing ability.

If Atlanta doesn’t move him, Dedmon will be a fine player on a likely tanking team. At least he’s not good enough to subvert the Hawks’ tank, especially with the new lottery format.

Nick Young says ‘everybody needs to do cocaine,’ later insists he was joking

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
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Nick Young will say and do nearly anything for attention.

Empowered by the Warriors’ championship, he swung for the fences when asked about Canada passing marijuana legalization.

Young, via TMZ:

“I want people to pass cocaine,” the NBA star told TMZ Sports outside 1 OAK on Tuesday night … “Everybody needs to do cocaine!”

Predictably, that caused a bit of an uproar. Then, Young backtracked:

Chill. You know I was just joking

A post shared by Nick Young (@swaggyp1) on

Too late, Nick. People are already asking questions you don’t want asked.

Report: 76ers trade No. 39 pick to Lakers

AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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The 76ers have too many 2018 draft picks – Nos. 10, 26, 38, 39, 56 and 60.

Philadelphia already has 11 players under contract for next season. Plus, the 76ers have the space to add premier players. There just isn’t room for everyone on the roster.

So, Philadelphia unloaded one of those selections.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This is good return for the 76ers, who everyone knew had to trade a draft pick. The rebuilding Bulls could easily land a higher second-round pick than No. 39 next year.

Why do the Lakers want an extra second-rounder this year? Second-round picks don’t count against the cap until signed, and they can always slightly sweeten a trade offer. They’re helpful for a team with big plans and little wiggle room.