LaMarcus Aldridge shocked the NBA by playing in the Portland Trail Blazers’ Saturday night win over the Washington Wizards, just days after the team announced he needed a thumb surgery that would sideline him six to eight weeks.
He’s going to continue to play through the injury as long as he can, but the team believes that if he puts the surgery off until the offseason, it could keep him out through the start of training camp.
Although Aldridge is not risking his long-term health by playing with a torn ligament, a specialist in the field said he could now be facing a recovery that will take twice as long — up to three or four months.
And if the Blazers reach the conference finals, or the NBA Finals, his recovery could extend into training camp, which typically opens around October 1.
Playing through the injury was always going to be a risk for Aldridge, but they can ill afford to lose him now. Robin Lopez is still out with a broken hand, and Joel Freeland with a shoulder injury. Nicolas Batum has dealt with wrist issues. In the brutal Western Conference, they can’t afford to lose Aldridge for two months, at least not until they have those other players healthy.
If Aldridge is able to play and be effective with the injury, and there’s no long-term risk to his career, missing him for the start of next year’s training camp is a tradeoff the Blazers will gladly make.
If nothing else, this move should ease fans’ concerns that Aldridge might look to leave after this season. He’s already said that he wants to stay in Portland, but he’s a free agent this summer and will have no shortage of suitors. But if he was thinking about leaving, he wouldn’t be playing hurt in a contract year. Having the surgery would still put him on track to return in time for the playoffs, but he knows the Blazers need him to keep their standing in the playoff race.
With any luck, it will work out the way he hopes.