Ford: Would Rockets Pursue Trade For Blazers F LaMarcus Aldridge If Dwight Howard Falls Through?

Greg Smith-US PRESSWIRE

A national writer offers some thoughts on the Portland Trail Blazers and All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, whose name has come up in trade rumors recently.

Chad Ford of ESPN.com offers some thoughts on the Portland Trail Blazers and All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, whose name has come up in trade rumors recently, during a Wednesday chat.

You went on a little mini talk on twitter yesterday about more GMs tanking in 2014. Can you elaborate a little more on that and whom you believe will?

Chad Ford (1:27 PM): Here's what I said last night on Twitter: I think we may all be UNDERESTIMATING number of teams considering tanking this year. Been flooded with calls from GMs re 2014 draft class. Interest in 2014 draft class is unprecedented. We're going to have a lot of REALLY bad teams this year. We know Suns, Bobcats, Sixers, Celtics & Magic will be REALLY bad. Sources say add Hawks to list. If they don't get DH12, likely to tank (rebuild!). The Raptors also look like they're heading that direction. The Bucks (unintentionally) could be heading that way. I think it's possible the Blazers (if they trade LaMarcus Aldridge) and the Jazz (if they don't resign Al Jefferson or Paul Milsap or another veteran to replace them) are also writing off the playoffs this year in an effort to score another high pick.

What is Houston's best plan if Howard doesn't come? Please don't say Bynum.

Chad Ford (1:50 PM): If you want a Top 3 center -- I do think Bynum is probably the guy. Incredible risk, but especially for a team like Dallas, what else are you going to do? Houston could stay pat. Atlanta can just go into full tank mode. Not sure Dallas can do that. I think Rockets much more likely to add another wing or try to pry away LaMarcus Aldridge from the Blazers or Al Horford from the Hawks.

Aldridge's name has been in rumors for a few weeks straight now. On Saturday, Aldridge told multiple media outlets that he had not gone to management to demand a trade.

"I haven't demanded a trade," Aldridge said in the e-mail.

...

"I'm looking forward to who we sign in free agency to make us better," Aldridge said in the e-mail.

On Sunday, Aldridge also replied "no" to a fan asking on Twitter asking him whether he was leaving the Blazers.

Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune reported that Aldridge told a reporter that he did in fact go to GM Neil Olshey to request a trade.

Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com reported that Aldridge "loves Portland" but is interested in a trade if substantial improvements to the roster aren't made. The Bulls and Dallas Mavericks were listed as his desired destinations.

Jason Quick of The Oregonian reported that Aldridge "wants out" of Portland and believes the city is "too small" and "too boring." Blazers GM Neil Olshey was quoted as saying that he wasn't making outgoing trade calls about Aldridge but that he would listen if the phone rang, and that Aldridge hadn't yet issued a trade demand.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports reported that the Blazers rejected an Aldridge trade proposal from the Golden State Warriors that included David Lee and Brandon Rush.

K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that Aldridge's agency has "suggested" the possibility that Aldridge might land with the Chicago Bulls, among other possibilities.

A report from Illinois on Wednesday suggested that Aldridge wanted to "escape" Portland and play for the Bulls. Multiple reports indicated that the Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers had trade discussions surrounding Aldridge.

Ford previously reported that there is a "solid chance" Aldridge is traded this summer. Early last week, Aldridge's name was put out there as a possible candidate for a draft week trade.

Back in May, Aldridge offered this assessment of his standing with the Blazers.

LA: You know, as of now I'm here and we have a great team. I'm here now and we have a team that can definitely get better next year and we have cap room so we can bring in players. So I'm definitely here, and we'll see what happens.

During his April exit interview, Aldridge suggested it could take two years for the Blazers to return to the playoffs.

Where this team is headed: "This year was a down year. I think it was better than what people thought it would be, it ended bad. I think if we add one or two pieces this summer and we have one OK season, I feel like that following season we should be good, really good."

...

Timeline for improvement: "I think just getting into the playoffs isn't good. I've done that. I think one year of maybe, barely getting in or not getting in, and that next year we should be able to really be serious about it."

Here was Olshey's response to Aldridge's exit interview comments.

I don't think you can speculate today because I don't know what free agency is going to bring, I don't know what the draft is going to bring, I don't know what trades are going to bring. But I know we're going to do everything we can to build the roster. To sit here and put an artificial expectation on what a roster may or may not be when you only have eight returning players and you haven't drafted yet or gone into free agency doesn't make a lot of sense.

But I do know from L.A.'s perspective, we talked, and he knows we're going to be aggressive in building the roster. I'd like to think the improvement from the guys who are already here on top of the guys we're going to bring in will make us a factor faster rather than later.

Aldridge, 27, averaged 21.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game last season. He is on the books for $14.6 million in 2013-14 and $15.8 million in 2014-15.

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

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