Big-time Money, Big-time Player.
LaMarcus Aldridge has been through numerous phases during his eight years with the Portland Trail Blazers. He went through a rebuild his first few seasons, a revival soon after, another rebuild during the post-Brandon Roy (and post-Greg Oden) era and now he’s experiencing the current resurgence alongside Damian Lillard.
That’s a roller coaster unlike most around the NBA have ever seen, but the big man has boosted his game to a whole new level, and he’s about to be paid for his troubles.
According to Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Blazers have approached Aldridge’s camp about how the two sides can work together on a max-money extension. Scenario No. 1 is a three-year, $55 million deal that would take effect this summer.
Simply put: Don’t expect that to happen.
As Wojnarowski states in his report:
“With only a remote chance that Aldridge will agree to the three-year, $55.5 million extension afforded him this summer under the collective bargaining agreement, the Blazers are determined to keep Aldridge on a five-year, $108 million extension that he can sign upon reaching free agency next summer.”
Doing the math, Aldridge has the chance to earn $52.5 million more by declining the immediate offer and signing the extension in 2015. The Blazers were smart to go to his agent in person and show their loyalty, but with the forward about to turn 29, a longer deal worth more coin is an easy choice.
Fans in Portland might be quick to worry when Aldridge delays the deal, but they shouldn’t. Aldridge has no need to test his value any longer — the Blazers have determined it with their offer — and no team leaguewide can give him that fifth year, courtesy of the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Barring a complete catastrophe, Portland will be just as competitive as it was this past season, and that’s exactly what Aldridge wants to see. Neil Olshey doesn’t have the flexibility he had in 2013 when it comes to bringing in new pieces, but with the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions in his pocket, there’s the potential to acquire rotation players who’ll bolster the bench — a crucial aspect when it comes to immediate improvement.
The other thing to consider is that Aldridge is continually climbing the ranks as it pertains to team history. As it stands today, the former Texas Longhorn is third on the team’s all-time scoring list, second in field goals, fifth in rebounds and seventh in games played.
He’s already the team’s best player (although Damian Lillard is right there in the conversation), but as USA TODAY Sports’ Sam Amick put it during the postseason, “He could go down as one of the best Blazers players of all-time.”
Where Aldridge ranks among the Portland greats is a topic of its own, but it’s important to recognize that legacy means something to NBA players. Aldridge could deny Portland’s offer this summer and seek a chance to join a big market in 2015, but his career began in Rip City, and that’s where he has the chance to leave his biggest mark.
Regardless of what happens, Aldridge is about to get paid. He no longer has to worry about whether or not the team will shell out the cash to keep him around, and he no longer has to worry about whether or not he’s wanted in the Pacific Northwest — if he ever could.
Now it’s about striking the deal at the right time, which for Aldridge, will likely be the summer of 2015.