Scoring & Leadership Lost for the Season
The Portland Trail Blazers confirmed on Thursday that forward LaMarcus Aldridge, 26 will be lost for the final six games of the season after surgery to repair a torn labrum was conducted in Vail, Col.
The franchise would not speculate how much recovery time would be needed before Aldridge could resume basketball activities, but expressed optimism that he would be ready to go for training camp in October.
Before the 2012-13 season starts, her are five things the Trailblazers lose in Aldridge’s absence in 2011-12.
1). A Face of the Franchise
How many times will Portland suffer a season-ending injury to their “franchise player?” Whether it has been Brandon Roy (knee), Greg Oden (knee), or Aldridge (heart and hip), the casual NBA fan has nobody to associate the Blazers with as constructed currently.
The team has not had a consistently healthy franchise face since Rasheed Wallace.
2). Consistent Offensive Threat
Offensively, Portland loses the NBA’s eighth leading scorer (21.7 ppg) as well as its most significant offensive threat.
Aldridge is the only player to even think about double-teaming on this roster and without his presence, scoring will become even more difficult for a squad that struggles to do it already. Do not let the 118 points on Wednesday against Golden State fool you.
All season long the entire organization has lacked stability, and in business terms, cohesive vertical integration.
In higher leadership, the Blazers have an owner in Paul Allen that appears to have lost interest and a president in Larry Miller that cannot articulate an organizational vision to fans.
Miller essentially oversees a ghost writer labeled as an “acting general manager” in Chad Buchanan that makes deals which fans cannot accurately guess who actually authored them and pulled the trigger to execute them.
The team then gets affected as long-time coach Nate McMillangets a pink slip and a vacation to the Cayman Islands for rest of the season if he so chooses. Aldridge’s latest setback is the nail in the coffin to the Blazers’ season.
Nobody will ever confuse Aldridge for Gen. Colin Powell, much less Brandon Roy for that matter, but that is okay.
By most accounts, Aldridge is a guy that is well-respected in the locker room by rookies and veterans alike. Admittedly, he likes to lead by example and his play is at an all-star performance, evidenced by his first selection to the NBA All-Star game this season.
An example of a consistent performer that keeps his mouth shut is what the Blazers locker room will lose for the rest of the season.
5). Money at the Gate in 2012 and 2013
Purely, from a financial perspective, the team will lose money with a minimal drop in ticket sales for the last two games. Despite the “sell-outs” there were a plethora of empty seats at the Rose Garden on Wednesday night, and with Aldridge out and no other superstars on the team, expect the number of empties to grow.
This ultimately hurts the team, because of lack of food and beverage sales that accompany 20,000 that fill up the arena. What is even more significant is that Thursday was the renewal deadline for Blazers season ticket holders. Make no mistake, for the fans waiting until the last minute because they were on the fence could not have been encouraged by the news of an Aldridge torn labrum, which has the chance (no matter how small) to transform into a chronic injury.
For one of the only fan-bases in the NBA that can name their team’s training staff, one cannot blame them if they think that Aldridge’s hip is Version 2 of Roy’s knee. Rehabilitation of his hip, in addition to the draft picks made and free agents acquired will play a role into how many tickets are sold next season before the first game.
As Aldridge and his Blazers head into the final days of a tumultuous 2011-2012 season, an off-season as important as any in recent memory hangs in the balance.
In an interview Thursday afternoon on “The Sports Insider with Brian Berger” on KJR 750 in Portland, Buchanan confirmed that the team will allow Aldridge to participate in the 2012 Summer Olympics if he is selected to the team and has a clean bill of health.
Unfortunately for the U.S., the backbone of a franchise and the heart of a fan-base rests on a labrum.