According to Chris Haynes of CSN Northwest, the Portland Trail Blazers met with LaMarcus Aldridge to discuss a potential trade. Aldridge was reportedly unequivocal, saying that he doesn't want to be traded, but wouldn't be opposed to a potential deal.
In the end, Portland's asking price will keep Aldridge in Portland.
Haynes reports that the Trail Blazers are targeting Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Al Horford, Kevin Love and Joakim Noah as compensation for trading Aldridge. As it presently stands, each of those player's respective teams has been unwilling to deal its franchise player.
Thus, all signs point towards Aldridge remaining with the Trail Blazers.
Aldridge currently has two years and remaining on his contract, making $14,128,000 in 2013-14 and $15,256,000 in 2014-15. Drafted No. 2 overall, Aldridge has certainly done enough during his seven-year career to warrant the money.
Unfortunately, that means Portland will not trade him unless the value is right.
Reasonable to Desire a Trade
Chances are, some fans will turn on Aldridge and try to make this out to be another Dwightmare. The truth of the matter is, Aldridge has every right and reason to request a trade at this stage of his career.
Unfortunately, Portland doesn't have many reasons to trade him.
Aldridge is 28, in the midst of the prime of his career and thriving on both ends of the floor. During the 2012-13 season, Aldridge averaged 21.1 points and 9.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 blocks with a Player Efficiency Rating of 20.45.
With that being said, Aldridge will be 30 when his contract expires, and the Trail Blazers don't project to win a title during the next two seasons. Their talent is promising, but they're one of the youngest teams in the NBA with Nicolas Batum, Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum all 24 or younger.
With his window of opportunity as open as it will ever be to help lead a title-contending team, it's hard to argue with Aldridge's logic if he does want a trade.
Furthermore, 30-year-old big men are hardly the most attractive targets when it comes to free agency. Aldridge could potentially receive a large deal, especially with a game that preaches fundamentals over athleticism.
For a player who's topped 37 minutes a night in four of his past five seasons, clocking in at 36.3 in 2011-12, there's certainly a concern over what type of money he could see emerging from a small market.
Equal Asking Price
Aldridge is a two-time All-Star with an elite offensive game and the positional versatility to start at power forward or center. He's one of the best low-post scorers in the world, is a threat from mid-range and has improved his defensive approach.
When you have a player of that caliber, it's hard to ask for anything but equal compensation.
Griffin, Horford, Love and Noah are all elite players, owning All-Star Game appearances and large salaries. Davis may not be elite just yet, but he was selected No. 1 overall in 2012 and had a very strong rookie season.
Unfortunately, swapping one of those players for Aldridge would be rather counterproductive.
As great as Aldridge is, his value is equal or comparable to each of those players. Due to the system that the teams run, it's unlikely that the former Texas Longhorn would offer an upgrade, but instead a trade that leaves a team in the same position as before.
For that reason, Portland's only option at this point is to wait until 2014.
Waiting Until 2014
The 2014 NBA draft is shaping up to be one of legendary proportions, as the incoming freshmen that will be eligible are of a special nature. While the number of potential superstars may be overstated, Andrew Wiggins highlights an on-paper class for the ages.
Assuming Aldridge avoids a severe statistical drop-off and a debilitating injury, his value will remain high, and the Blazers could potentially use him to trade up in this vaunted selection process.
That's a big if, but the Trail Blazers play in a city that has struggled to persuade top free agents to sign with them. For that reason, Portland must continue to build via the draft, which it's had success doing.
The issue is, the Trail Blazers' top-tier draft choices are still far removed from entering their prime.
Aldridge deserves a chance to compete for a title, as he's one of the top 20 players in the NBA today. Offensively, he's one of the best big men of his generation, dominating out of the post like few in this era of athleticism-over-fundamentals can.
When it comes right down to it, Portland's asking price is simply too steep for a trade to be made at this point in the season.
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