Sunday, February 26, 2012

Aldridge had thoughts of leaving Portland

Since the days of Bill Walton it seems like the Portland Trail Blazers have been cursed by injuries to their stars. Either injuries or bad apples in the locker room. The latest blow to the Blazers has been Greg Oden's latest setback trying to recover from knee surgery, which will probably end his Blazers career and put his NBA career in serious jeopardy.

There was once a time when the Blazers were thought to be an up and coming force in the NBA. I was one of those believers. They had Brandon Roy, the team leader and All-Star. LaMarcus Aldridge, a big man with tons of potential. Then there was Greg Oden, who was thought to be the next dominant big man in the NBA. With the three young guns on board. Aldridge felt out of place and low in the pecking order behind Roy, Oden, and Andre Miller. So Aldridge was at a point where he thought leaving Portland would be better for his career.

"I was the last of the Big Three," Aldridge said, referring to his importance. "I even remember Coach telling me that the team is really good, but you are the glue," referring to a term for a role player who does the little things to keep the team together. "And I was like, 'Aw man, I'm the glue?' I mean, that's not a bad role, but I saw myself being so much more." 

Aldridge is now the cornerstone of the franchise since the Blazers lost Roy to retirement (bad knees) and Oden to chronic knee problems. But Aldridge had doubts about being in Portland and him being an All-Star if Roy and Oden remained healthy.

"No. No. No. I wouldn't," Aldridge said. "I mean, I would go as far to ask would I even still be here?"

"I probably would have ended up signing somewhere else," Aldridge said. "Think about it. I was the last option out of those guys, so they both would have gotten max deals, and they wouldn't have given me my deal (five years, $62.5 million). They only signed me because I was the only low post threat left on the team. If they had Greg, they don't give me the number I wanted, and I'm somewhere else. I think about it all the time. I wouldn't even be here had Greg not gotten hurt." 

Now Aldridge holds no grudges and wished the two had stayed healthy to see how things would've turned out. But there is no doubt that he might've been forced to leave to advance his career to the level it is now. Aldridge is happy in Portland and not because he's option number one. He just wanted a bigger role on the team, but he happened to get it because the other two stars were felled by injury. I'm sure Aldridge would like to rewrite the script but if the Blazers could get a few pieces to surround Aldridge they could be thought of as a contender once again.  

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