Report: LaMarcus Aldridge told Trail Blazers he will not be back as a free agent

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This would certainly explain yesterday’s trade of Nicolas Batum.

While the writing seems to have been on the wall for a little while, there is now a report that LaMarcus Aldridge made it official and told the Portland Trail Blazers he was moving on. Eric Gunderson of the Columbian as the report.

A Western Conference executive with knowledge of the Aldridge pursuit has told The Columbian that the free-agent has already informed the Blazers that he will not return to the Northwest….

Another league executive told The Columbian on Wednesday that the trade of Batum looked like “a rebuilding move,” and league sources say that the Blazers are “not done” dealing.

Expect the denials of this to come soon. Doesn’t mean it’s not true, but there will be denials.

After the way things have been trending, this shouldn’t be a shock. That said, it’s sad, because of what might have been in Portland. There was a time when it seemed like Brandon Roy and Aldridge would be a powerful duo, then Roy’s knees gave out. There was the Greg Oden situation that never panned out but could have given the Blazers a dominant front line. Then even this season the Blazers seemed like a dangerous playoff team until Wesley Matthews went down.

Aldridge is rumored to be most interested in joining the San Antonio Spurs, but that depends on if they can clear out enough cap room (especially since Tim Duncan apparently wants to play one more season). Aldridge’s hometown of Dallas is in the mix, and the Lakers are rumored to be fast climbing his list of preferences. Other teams like the Rockets and maybe even Celtics want to get in the mix as well.

Now the Blazers have to look ahead.

The first call the Trail Blazers will make at midnight July 1 is to Damian Lillard, to lock him up to a max extension off his rookie deal.

The next call will be to Kevin Love, someone who can be plugged straight into the Aldridge role — and someone with Portland ties. But this is a real longshot. Most likely Love stays in Cleveland at least another season, and if he does decide to bolt the Lakers have long been considered the front-runner.

After that… it’s rebuilding time. You make moves like moving Nicolas Batum to start stocking the team with young players, picks and assets. You start reshaping the roster. And you hope a little.