After an extremely frustrating loss to the Memphis Grizzlies last night, Trail Blazers fans and players are not feeling as confident about this series as they originally had. Now, the team must also be worried about it’s future with news coming out today that it is looking more and more like Aldridge will be leaving Portland for free agency this summer. Jason Quick from the Oregonian noted that some of Aldridge’s teammates are even doubting if he will return:
Some Blazers players have already said they are worried free agency will take Aldridge away from Portland this summer. Earlier this month, before a home game, a Blazers player estimated the chances of him returning to Portland at 50-50.
This is what Aldridge said earlier in the season when he didn’t want to sign an extension in the off-season:
“I don’t want it to be perceived that I’m not happy, or I’m not staying on because I’m not signing a three-year deal,” Aldridge told The Oregonian last July. “It’s just financially smarter to wait … and I’m looking forward to signing the five-year deal when the chance comes.”
Quick wanted to highlight that the decision from Aldridge will ultimately have nothing to do with money, though:
But one Blazers player cautioned that Aldridge already has enough money. Happiness is what he is truly seeking, and that could be found in being closer to family in Texas. It’s the tricky thing about Aldridge. No one ever really knows where he stands. He is fickle. Moody. And unpredictable.
Odd to see such focus on Aldridge’s future with the Trail Blazers in the middle of a playoff series right now against the Grizzlies. In the first game, LaMarcus was the only player on Portland who truly looked like he wanted to win. If there is not enough effort from the rest of the team for the remaining games in this series, we could see LA moving out of Portland.
LaMarcus is not the only key Portland player in his last year of his current contract. The following table below contains the salaries that Portland owes to their players (and former players):
Courtesy of HoopsHype:
Aldridge, RoLo, and Wes Matthews are the big names that have their contracts ending after this year. Portland will have plenty of cap, with Brandon Roy’s contract finally coming off the books this summer, to pursue some of the big names in free agency. If LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t show intent on staying, then Portland will have to focus on signing Lopez and Matthews while looking for someone like Greg Monroe to replace him.
Let’s get one thing straight though. If Portland has a chance to keep Aldridge, one of the best players in the NBA, they must try as hard as they can to get him to stay. We have to respect LaMarcus if he decides to leave Portland and move closer to his family as that would be an unselfish decision that is prompted by the most important thing in life (yes, more important than basketball), family.