Jaynes: Blazers F LaMarcus Aldridge Is "Soft" On Offense, "Soft" On Defense

Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Columnists offer opposing takes on Portland Trail Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge's early season play.

Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW.com has some harsh words for Portland Trail Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, suggesting the team should consider trading him.

This is Aldridge's seventh season in Portland and I constantly hear him referred to as the Trail Blazers' all-star forward. Well, for the record, he's played in one all-star game, last season, and was on the floor for just 10 minutes. No offense intended, but that's what he is so far in his career -- a 10-minute all-star.

...

Aldridge, for me, doesn't fulfill the basic requirement of a superstar -- or even an untouchable, untradeable player: the ability to make his teammates better. I've frankly never seen any evidence of that. He plays, does his thing and it never seems to have much of an impact on any of his teammates.

He doesn't often make plays for others and his presence on the floor doesn't seem to occupy the defense enough to allow others more room to operate.

His defense, this season at least, has been soft. His offense has been inconsistent and, well, soft. I think there's evidence he may already have topped out as a player -- or at least as a focal-point, No. 1-option player.

On Monday, John Canzano of The Oregonian had the opposite take: the Blazers need to lighten Aldridge's load and let him know he's still the centerpiece of the long-term plan.

The Blazers are asking too much of Aldridge this season. He's playing too many minutes (37.8 per game). He's shouldering too much of the load, with no depth behind him. This is a player who missed time with a hip injury last season. He had a scare with a heart condition before that. He's bothered with back issues now. And even as Portland is vowing to get the star help next summer, Aldridge might not get there in one piece.

It's why the charade that is being perpetuated is dicey. I know Stotts is trying to win as many games as possible. I know the temptation is to go all in, trying to stay competitive, while also developing Lillard and rookie center Meyers Leonard. But if the plan is to get Aldridge help next summer, and then win in two years, why not prove to him that this season really is about the future instead of pretending that it's not?

Protect Aldridge by limiting him to reasonable minutes, even if it means losing some close games. Demonstrate to Aldridge that the goal is to be ready for next season by starting Leonard, even as it's also going to hurt the bottom line. And when February's NBA trade deadline nears, deal the well-liked and highly regarded J.J. Hickson ($4 million, one-year contract) for a piece that proves to the All-Star forward that there really is a plan here.

--- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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