How Can the Portland Trail Blazers Keep LaMarcus Aldridge Long-Term?
Simply put, the Trail Blazers need to keep Aldridge healthy. This isn't the Orlando Magic, a franchise with a nascent reputation for losing star players. If Portland is to lose LaMarcus Aldridge, it will most likely be due to injury.
It certainly should not be due to salary issues. The Blazers are set to pay out a mere $34 million next season, little more than what Kobe Bryant makes per year. Not only that, but LaMarcus is locked up through 2015. The pricey signing was criticized at the time, but it's a good value today.
There are only so many efficient, long-shooting players who push seven feet and can man either frontcourt position. While LaMarcus Aldridge may not be a superstar, he is an underrated star for the time being.
But, at a certain juncture, it is fair to doubt a medical staff. According to Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus, no team has lost more games over the past three seasons than the Blazers have. There is a dark history here, perhaps starting way back with Bill Walton's foot injuries. Then there was the Sam Bowie flameout. In the modern era, we have Greg Oden and Brandon Roy. Joel Przybilla receives an honorable mention as well.
And last season, Aldridge joined the Blazer tradition by suffering a season-ending hip injury. It's unfortunate, but in theory, he should be back next year. Also, LaMarcus is lengthy and skilled enough to, perhaps, not be so impacted by mobility limiting injuries. The man's main weapon is the long, loping two-pointer.
Since Aldridge is such a nice long-two threat, the Blazers should have a bright future if Damian Lillard complements him in the pick-and-pop game. Lillard was an excellent pick-and-roll player at Weber State, and he was quite impressive in the Summer League.
It is difficult to know just how good a young rookie will be, but it would appear that Aldridge and Lillard were meant to play together. It helps that Lillard brings some of the athleticism that LaMarcus lacks.
The Blazers might not be in a prime free-agent location, but Portland is a beautiful city. Paul Allen has more money than almost any other owner in the league. Their main obstacle is health. Provided that Paul Allen is still somewhat rational, they should be able to finally clear that hurdle.
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