A couple weeks ago, Comcast SportsNet Northwest published a piece stating that LaMarcus Aldridge "would prefer to be moved if the Portland Trail Blazers don't have plans to drastically improve their roster." That quote was published on June 27th, the morning before the NBA Draft. Today is July 12th. The Blazers have likely made all their moves, but the all-star forward is keeping silent about whether his feelings have changed.
This doesn't necessarily mean Aldridge wants to leave, but it probably does. The fact that Aldridge has only denied asking for a trade, rather than denying that he’s unhappy, shows he is probably not giddy at the prospect of spending another year in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t understand why. I think Portland is pretty cool personally. Then again, I’m someone who gets really excited about $4 burritos and Aldridge is a professional athlete. We might have slightly different preferences.
Let’s assume that Aldridge only cares about the Blazers improving their roster. His pre-draft concern makes sense. The team didn't make the playoffs in a league where over half the teams do. Let’s assume he only had/has cold feet because he's not sure management is capable of putting the right players around him to succeed. Let’s pretend that it doesn't have anything to do with playing in a small market, being the face of a franchise or a dislike of precipitation. Let’s pretend that Aldridge only cares about winning basketball games.
The Blazers drafted guard C.J. McCollum at 10th overall. I don't have any idea what kind of pro McCollum will be, but the experts seem to think pretty good. He is easy to compare to Damian Lillard based on their positions and the size of their alma maters. All I can say is after watching all the pre-draft interviews, McCollum seemed to be the most intelligent player available. Weather that makes him a great basketball player remains to be seen, but I have no doubt he will work his tail off to become one.
Cal's Allen Crabbe was drafted in the second round. The knock on Crabbe is that his game is one-dimensional, a similar knock to many players picked in the second round. Luckily his dimension is the ability to score, and that makes him an ideal guy to come off the bench and give the Blazers a shot in the arm. He won’t be getting triple doubles, but he has NBA range and irrational confidence guy written all over him.
These players will give the Blazers a little depth at both guard positions. That's nice, but their real issues were down low. The Blazers said they wanted to acquire a solid big man and Robin Lopez was at least that last season. Lopez has shown steady improvement over the last three years while playing for the Phoenix Suns and New Orleans Hornets. He may not be a defensive stopper, but compared to what they were getting with the undersized J.J. Hickson last year, he should drastically improve the Blazers ability to protect the rim.
Just two years ago, Thomas Robinson was considered the second best player coming out of college. A few days ago, he was traded to Portland for two guys who may never play in the NBA. Robinson was in the worst possible basketball situation for any player in Sacramento and was never given a serious chance in Houston. He should have his first real shot in Portland to play in a decent rotation. He will also hopefully reprise his college role of rebounding machine to help with the deficiencies that Lopez has crashing the boards.
To round out the second unit, the Blazers picked up three point specialist Dorell Wright. Last year, the Blazers had essentially a five man rotation. After just two weeks there's no reason to believe (unless they all stink) that the Blazers should have twice that number in this year’s rotation.
That gives the Blazers two new guards, two new forwards and a new center. An entire second unit, and that’s not even taking into account second year man Meyers Leonard who showed some promise last year.
The Blazers management tried to address the holes in the roster. LaMarcus Aldridge made a point to let them know they had to do this in order to keep him. It appears management mostly succeeded.
The organization has done its part. It's time for Aldridge to do his. Time to win some basketball games.