LaMarcus Aldridge is eligible to sign an extension with the Portland Trailblazers this summer, but won’t be doing so until a year from now. While that’s discouraging news for the Blazers on the surface, Aldridge also made it clear that he intends to remain in Portland for the long-haul while taking advantage of his rights as a free agent.
The story is courtesy of The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman. Of crucial note is that Portland owner Paul Allen and GM Neil Olshey recently presented the avenue Aldridge is choosing as one of his two most prudent options to remain with the Blazers.
Aldridge on Tuesday told The Oregonian he has opted to postpone signing a contract extension with the Blazers until next summer, when he can sign for more years and significantly more money…
Last month, owner Paul Allen and general manager Neil Olshey traveled to Los Angeles to reaffirm their commitment to the franchise cornerstone and recruit him to stay in Portland long-term, presenting two scenarios allowed under the NBA collective bargaining agreement to make that happen.
In the first scenario, Aldridge — who is entering the final year of a five-year, $65 million contract — could sign an extension this offseason worth $55 million over three years. In another, he could wait until next summer and sign a five-year, $108 million maximum extension that could keep in Portland through the 2019-20 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 said. “It’s just financially smarter to wait … and I’m looking forward to signing the five-year deal when the chance comes.”
Aldridge’s decision to re-sign with the Blazers next summer carries risk for both parties. On one hand, there’s a chance that Aldridge could sustain a serious injury in 2014-2015 and thus command less than a maximum salary as free agent next summer. On the other, he could potentially grow unhappy in Portland over the next year and ultimately decide to sign with another team in free agency.
But those are unlikely contingencies given Aldridge’s durability, his career campaign in 2013-2014, and the overwhelmingly upward trajectory of the Blazers. Though an ideal outcome for Portland would have been for Aldridge to sign a less expensive extension this summer, getting him to tentatively agree to remain with the Blazers is certainly a positive. Plus, they’ll have the 28 year-old Aldridge under contract for an additional season in this scenario.
Now primed to stay in Portland for the next six years, Aldridge has huge ambitions for his future.
“I want to be the best Blazer — ever.” Aldridge said. “If I stay the rest of my career, I should be able to catch Clyde by then. I should be able to leave a mark on a big-time franchise that is going to be seen forever. And I will be able to say I played here my whole career. This city has embraced me and grown with me. I have so much history, it just makes sense to stay.”
That’s a lofty goal, but it would be foolish to assume Aldridge couldn’t achieve it. The sharp-shooting big man enjoyed the best season of his career in 2013-2014, leading the Blazers to 54 wins by averaging career-highs of 23.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game.
And if he continues that improvement and makes good on his promise to finish his career in Portland, Aldridge’s grandiose objective is surely more likely to be attained than otherwise.
Will Aldridge be the best Blazer ever?
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