Updates from Tuesday, July 8
Joe Freeman of The Oregonian spoke to LaMarcus Aldridge about his contract negotiations with the Portland Trail Blazers:
LaMarcus Aldridge tells The Oregonian he will not sign a contract extension with #Blazers this offseason, but plans to do so next summer.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) July 8, 2014
Aldridge said it makes most sense financially to wait because he can sign for more years (5) and make more money ($108 million) next year.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) July 8, 2014
Aldridge: "I'm happy to stay (in Portland), happy to be here, happy with the direction the team has gone the last year or 2. But ..." (cont)— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) July 8, 2014
Aldridge cont: "... I just want to get a 5-year deal. I feel like that’s the best decision on my part."— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) July 8, 2014
LaMarcus Aldridge said he wants to finish his career in Portland. One reason why: "I want to be the best Blazer. Ever."— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) July 8, 2014
The Portland Trail Blazers' goal last summer was to appease LaMarcus Aldridge enough to where he'd rescind his trade request. After an excellent regular season and a playoff appearance that few saw coming, Portland's goal for this summer is locking up its All-Star to a long-term extension.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reported Thursday that the Blazers extended Aldridge a maximum contract extension last week. Owner Paul Allen and general manager Neil Olshey met with Aldridge's team of agents in Los Angeles to discuss their options together.
It's worth noting that it is highly unlikely any deal is struck. The NBA's collective bargaining agreement places onerous restrictions on signing long-term extensions before a player's contract has expired. Portland can only offer Aldridge a three-year deal worth $55.5 million this summer. The max extends to five years and $108 million if the two sides wait until next summer.
Because of the massive difference in yearly salary and overall guarantee, it would behoove Aldridge to wait it out. Even in the event of an injury, he is likely to earn an offer on the open market of more than $55.5 million over his next contract's duration.
Aldridge's maximum deal might even go higher in 2015. The league's barometer for a maximum contract is tied to the salary cap, which is tied to league revenue. With NBA profits skyrocketing, you'll be hard-pressed to see any high-profile player sign an actual extension.
Still, Wojnarowski reports there is optimism inside the Blazers organization that Aldridge is in Portland for the long haul.
"I would like to re-sign here," Aldridge told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune in January. "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 stance is an about-face from last summer when it looked increasingly likely he'd become the latest star player to force a trade to a major market. Numerous reports from Portland indicated Aldridge wanted out, and the Chicago Bulls to some were positioned to make a major move. The Blazers never engaged in serious talks, however, going into last season hoping they built a solid enough core to change Aldridge's mind.
Portland got off to a red-hot start and was one of the NBA's biggest surprises en route to a 54-28 regular-season record. The Blazers then upset the Houston Rockets in the first round before being steamrolled by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs.
Aldridge turned in the best statistical season of his career, averaging 23.2 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. It was the first time averaging a double-double in his eight NBA seasons. Aldridge upped his production even more in the playoffs from a scoring standpoint, including back-to-back 40-point games in the Houston series.
With Damian Lillard developing into one of the NBA's most lethal offensive point guards, Aldridge finally has a co-pilot to attract defensive attention. The Blazers have almost their entire core under contract for 2014-15 as well, leaving them with the mid-level exception to add another piece to the rotation. The Western Conference is a gauntlet, but Portland is well positioned to make another playoff run.
Talks of an extension, though, are premature. It makes little financial or logistical sense for Aldridge to ink a deal this summer. By waiting, he's able to guarantee the biggest possible payday while ensuring last season's surprise run was not a fluke.