The Portland Trail Blazers aren't looking to trade LaMarcus Aldridge, as has been made clear throughout a summer filled with trade rumors and speculation centering around the big man. However, that doesn't mean they'd plug their ears and sing loudly if the right deal emerges.
A midseason trade is also a strong possibility, as explained by Grantland's Zach Lowe:
The easy suggestion in the event of stagnation would be to trade Aldridge a year before his pending free agency becomes a crisis, as Utah did with Deron Williams. But that will be tricky. Allen's aversion to rebuilding is real, and some of the asset-rich teams that would make for natural Aldridge trade partners aren't trying to win this season. Aldridge is too good for a Jrue Holiday–style deal that brings only future picks. The Blazers also lack a bad salary they'd be anxious to dump, making the construction of mega-offers less palatable.
We've seen situations like that pop up throughout NBA history, as it's better to get something for a star before he leaves in free agency and prevents you from gaining any assets other than cap space that can't be used on a similar-level player due to the newfound unappealing nature of the destination.
It happened with Deron Williams, as mentioned by Lowe, and it's not too dissimilar to the Carmelo Anthony situation a few years back with the Denver Nuggets.
There's no guarantee Portland is non-competitive enough to make this a more realistic possibility, but the deals are out there if Rip City falters at the beginning of the 2013-14 season.
Potential Trade: LaMarcus Aldridge and Will Barton for Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler
It would take a lot to pry the promising young wing named Jimmy Butler away from the Chicago Bulls, but LaMarcus Aldridge qualifies as "a lot."
With Carlos Boozer serving as a stopgap at power forward and Butler taking over at shooting guard, which allows Wesley Matthews to help shore up an improving bench, the Blazers would remain a playoff-contending team in the tough Western Conference, but they'd also have even more hope for the future.
Butler has the makings of a true stud.
He's shown tremendous offensive improvement, particularly during the second half of the 2012-13 season when he became much more confident in his shot. He hit 47.5 percent of his three-pointers after the All-Star break and 40 percent in the playoffs, even showing off some fancy moves like a scarily consistent step-back fadeaway jumper.
Add in his defensive prowess, and you can see why it would be tough for Chicago to give him up. But Aldridge is a prize worth fighting for, and he'd greatly shore up the title hopes and dreams.
While the Bulls were markedly worse on both ends of the court when Boozer played, they wouldn't be able to say the same with Aldridge. His mid-range shooting would keep the same level of spacing currently employed, and his defense would be a major step up from Boozer's.
Chicago should be in win-now mode, and trading for Aldridge would prove that the franchise is intent on dethroning the Miami Heat.
Potential Trade: LaMarcus Aldridge for Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and Alonzo Gee
This trade is all about the future.
Alonzo Gee is thrown in to make the salaries work, as the focus here clearly rests on the two-man combo of Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson.
With Waiters, the Blazers would boast one of the deadliest backcourt scoring trios in recent memory. Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and the Syracuse product can all put up points in bunches, and Lillard is the only one without much positional flexibility.
Personally, I'd love to see that rotation go to work, especially if Rip City was willing to play true small ball and let all three ball-handlers step onto the court at the same time.
As for Tristan Thompson, he's emerging into a quality power forward thanks to his expanding range and dominance on the glass.
While he showed a noticeable amount of increased confidence shooting from outside the paint, he maintained his presence on the boards during his sophomore season, pulling down more offensive rebounds than anyone in the NBA not named Zach Randolph. After finishing 16th in total rebounding percentage, it's not entirely inconceivable that Thompson could compete for the league lead in boards with the Blazers, given the increased number of opportunities.
The Cavs might be hesitant to give up both young players, but it would be worth it to de-cloud the power forward position and add some immediate firepower. Trading for Aldridge gives the franchise more legitimacy and makes it quite clear that Dan Gilbert is willing to do what it takes before the inevitable pursuit of a former Cleveland superstar next summer.
While Waiters and Thompson are promising players, they don't carry with them the same short-term appeal as Aldridge.
Potential Trade: LaMarcus Aldridge for Greg Monroe, Rodney Stuckey and Kyle Singler
Tell me which one of these players you'd rather have playing power forward after looking at their PERs for and against while at the 4, according to 82games.com:
|Player||PER for||PER against|
Not much of a question, is it?
While Monroe was the best defender at the 4 (albeit in fairly limited time, as he played just 11 percent of the available minutes), the difference between himself and Aldridge wasn't nearly enough to make up for the offensive gap.
Aldridge would provide the spacing that this team desperately lacks. Monroe, Smith and Andre Drummond are all limited shooters, and crowding in the paint is going to be a major issue given the current composition of the Detroit Pistons' roster.
Singler is also being thrown into this trade as an extra benefit for Rip City, and Rodney Stuckey's expiring contract is there to give the franchise more financial flexibility moving forward.
The key for Portland is clearly Monroe, who needs a change of scenery after struggling to emerge as a true star in Motor City.
Potential Trade: LaMarcus Aldridge for Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin and Donatas Motiejunas
To make the salaries work for this trade, the Houston Rockets must part ways with both Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin, though they shouldn't be concerned about losing the latter. Not because he's a less-than-stellar point guard (he's a capable starter), but because Patrick Beverley and Aaron Brooks can fill in the void left behind.
Houston doesn't have much trading flexibility because so many of its players are either untradeable until later in the season or on such cheap contracts that it doesn't really matter.
This trade would be quite mutually beneficial.
Houston receives the upgrade at power forward it so desperately needs. Asik and Dwight Howard can't coexist in the same starting lineup, but Aldridge and Howard most certainly can.
A first unit of Beverley, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Aldridge and Howard would be among the best in basketball, and it would be strong enough that it's worth sacrificing a little bit of depth.
As for the Blazers, they'd be acquiring three solid players, one of whom can capably serve as a defensive anchor throughout the foreseeable future. Lin would eventually need to be moved once more because he doesn't fit alongside Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but it's worth taking that risk to acquire Asik and Donatas Motiejunas.
That said, this trade wouldn't be a realistic option until we were approaching the trade deadline. If the Blazers aren't competing for a postseason berth at that point in the season, that's when this becomes possible. Not before, because it doesn't do much to help the short-term hopes of the franchise.
Potential Trade: LaMarcus Aldridge, Will Barton and a second-round draft pick for David Lee and Harrison Barnes
This is by far my favorite of the five potential trades, simply because it helps out both franchises in such a large way. And it is a little more favorable for the Blazers, hence the inclusion of a future second-round draft pick .
Rip City would be receiving an offensive stud (David Lee) and a wing player just oozing with potential (Harrison Barnes).
Lee provides immediate offensive help after losing Aldridge, and he'd form a terrifying scoring duo alongside Lillard. For all his flaws on the defensive end—ones that can be mollified by the presence of Robin Lopez in the frontcourt—Lee is a premier offensive power forward.
But it's Barnes who makes this trade feasible for Portland.
The North Carolina product struggled at the beginning of his rookie season, but he steadily improved and looked like a future star during the Dubs' surprising postseason run. In the playoffs, Barnes averaged 16.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game while emerging as a consistent perimeter threat.
He'd form a great wing rotation alongside Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum, and he's expendable after the acquisition of Andre Iguodala. The presence of the swingman in Golden State means that the Dubs can afford to trade either Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes if the right deal emerges, as one of the two will be functioning as a sixth man.
And acquiring Aldridge would be the right deal, as he's a major defensive upgrade over Lee without giving up too much (if anything) on the offensive end of the court.
A starting lineup of Stephen Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Aldridge and Andrew Bogut should terrify just about everyone in the Western Conference thanks to the two-way potency.