Once considered a free-agency flight risk or eventual trade chip, Aldridge has indicated he hopes to remain in Portland.
"I would like to re-sign here," Aldridge, who will be a free agent in 2015, told the Portland Tribune's Kerry Eggers. "If they want to talk about it, I would talk about it. They haven't yet, but I'm looking forward to the chance to do that."
Aldridge's open desire to stay represents a stark shift in mentality. He was linked to various trade rumors and demands over the summer. CSNNW Chris Haynes even reported Aldridge's camp met with general manager Neil Olshey to go over several trade scenarios.
Though Aldridge denied the chatter, he admitted to Eggers that he was unhappy with the direction Portland was headed in:
Neil and I talked all summer. I was unhappy with what happened last season. He said, 'I know you want to win now. We're not going to rebuild. We're going to bring in some guys to win now.' We went back and forth. He said 'Let me bring in some guys to help you.' And that's what happened.
Losing can have that effect. The Blazers went 33-49 last season, closing out the year with 13 consecutive losses. They haven't made the playoffs since 2011 and haven't made it past the first round since Aldridge arrived in 2006.
Toss in the fact that Aldridge appeared stuck in a diminutive-sized market, and his departure appeared inevitable.
Then, this season happened.
Portland is 28-9, tied for the Western Conference's second-best record. The Blazers also rank first in offensive efficiency, running an attack that is equal parts explosive and smooth. Damian Lillard has developed into a superstar, and role players like Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, Mo Williams and Robin Lopez have given Aldridge the support he's never had.
Drastic improvements have left Aldridge openly optimistic, something he simply wasn't a year ago.
"This team is good," he said to Eggers. "We can get better. This summer, we can reassess what we have and add things we need. If not this year, in the next couple of years, this team can win a championship."
Aldridge seems prepared to stick around in hopes of finding out.
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