Sean Highkin dives into the rookie extension
over at Hardwood Paroxysm
and writes that the Portland Trail Blazers would do well to remember how the Utah Jazz handled the Deron Williams situation while they weigh their future with All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who is about to enter the third year of his 5-year rookie extension.
By trading Williams earlier than they had to, the Jazz were able to maximize their return. This is something the Portland Trail Blazers should take to heart before LaMarcus Aldridge’s contract is up in 2015. Kevin Love is due for a new deal the same year, and although the Timberwolves have the advantage of having Ricky Rubio to build around alongside Love, he has already expressed an impatience to make the playoffs and contend for a championship. If he can’t do that in Minnesota in the next two years, it’s likely they’ll be forced to deal him. But doing it sooner could give them a better foundation on which to rebuild.
This approach is not without risk. Dangling a star in trade talks before he publicly asks for a trade could make the entire proposition something of a self-fulfilling prophecy—if he sees that he isn’t wanted, he may want out even if he didn’t before. In the case of Aldridge, he has so far said all the right things about being willing to stay the course through Portland’s rebuilding effort. If the Blazers were to start dangling him in trade talks within the next 18 months, they would run the risk of alienating him from the organization and diminishing his eagerness to see the rebuild through. But that rebuild is only a few blown draft picks or ill-advised free-agent signings from collapsing, and it will be difficult for him to justify signing on to waste the rest of his prime on another half-decade of 35-win teams. And this is where the problem lies for the Blazers: With the exception of Rajon Rondo (and, I suppose, LeBron James), Aldridge probably has the best contract of any elite player in the league. He’s making between $13 and 16 million per year for the remaining three seasons on his deal, which makes him extremely attractive to teams looking to add a franchise-caliber star without completely tying up their cap. This combined with the significant amount of team control left on the contract should mean Portland would get a return comparable to what the Jazz got for Williams, should they decide to move him.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter