Trail Blazers assistant coach: ‘We didn’t publicize it, but we lost LaMarcus Aldridge’

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The Trail Blazers are putting together a nice, young big-man rotation.

They already had Meyers Leonard. They traded for Noah Vonleh and Mason Plumlee. And they agreed to sign Al-Farouq Aminu, who can and should play plenty of power forward.

The big question: Will those players provide depth around LaMarcus Aldridge or replace the free agent?

Aldridge reportedly told the Trail Blazers he’s leaving. Portland general manager Neil Olshey denied that, but assistant coach Kim Hughes apparently believes Aldridge is gone.

Hughes, at Leonard’s basketball camp at his Illinois high school, on WTHI-TV (hat tip: Mike Tokito of The Oregonian):

Well, people don’t realize we just went young. We didn’t publicize it, but we lost LaMarcus Aldridge. It hasn’t been declared yet, but I’m sure he won’t come back. We will go young.

I still wouldn’t completely rule out Aldridge returning to Portland.

Hughes is speaking out of turn, at least from the franchise’s perspective, and he’s not in the front office. I think he knows Aldridge informed the team he’s leaving, but it’s possible he’s basing that statement on some assumptions.

Even if Hughes is certain Aldridge told the Trail Blazers he’s leaving – and I think that’s the most likely scenario – that doesn’t mean he’s gone. People change their minds. Aldridge spent nine years in Portland, and the Trail Blazers can offer him the most money. If he becomes uncertain about his direction, a one-year deal (with a player option in year two) in Portland makes a lot of sense.

This is strong evidence Aldridge is gone. Very strong evidence. But I’m not ready to declare his Trail Blazers career over with absolute certainty.