What will happen with L.A. in PDX?
Up to this point, much has been made about nothing. In fairness of the media, LaMarcus Aldridge himself told The Oregonian’s Jason Quick that Portland was “too small. Too boring,” and that certainly put fans on edge during a summer full of changes.
But while the big man’s future has been up in the air, fans in Portland should take a deep breath and stay optimistic as we enter the 2013-14 NBA season.
Up to this point, we’ve yet to hear Aldridge say that he wants a trade—he simply wants the team to be better. As the new year begins, it seems as if that will be the case.
GM Neil Olshey couldn’t convince a superstar to join Aldridge in Rip City, but that was apparently never his plan. He bolstered the bench, improved the backcourt and found a legitimate center to take the pressure off of Aldridge down low.
The question is whether or not the team can make the postseason right away, and if it can, how far can it go against a top-heavy Western Conference?
The truth is that the Blazers are going to be fighting for the seventh or eighth spot all season. They’re not going to be a contender this year, and they’re not going to win a seven-game series against the conference’s best unless defense becomes a priority.
That said, they’re going to surprise some people, and the hope is that one of those people is Aldridge.
The big man has never wanted to play center, and now he doesn’t have to. He’s never been able to make the second round of the playoffs, and while it seems like a stretch to assume the team will do that in 2014, the hope is that the forward can see improvements in multiple senses of the word.
If the two-time All-Star wants to play for a championship team right away, Portland might be in trouble. However, if he looks toward the future and realizes that the Blazers are in good shape both talent-wise and in contract flexibility, he’ll see that this team is bound to turn it around sooner rather than later.
At the very least, expect Aldridge to remain with Portland through 2013-14. The team would be smart to weigh its options, but it would be even smarter to see this thing through.
Olshey is confident in the moves he made, and if they’re as good as he says they are, Aldridge will finally have the help he’s requested both now and for years to come.
Portland fans aren’t ignorant to the situation that’s brewing, but they also have reason for optimism. Robin Lopez will help in the middle, Nicolas Batum is a budding young star and Damian Lillard is as good of a cornerstone piece as anyone can hope for.
The Blazers have two years to convince Aldridge to stay, and if the big man can open his eyes (and his mind) enough to see the future, he’ll realize that this team is on the brink of becoming just what he hopes it can be.