When I've read Aldridge's comments and what Neil Olshey has said, their stories just don't seem to match up with what the Trailblazers current situation is.
Aldridge before the offseason:
"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." "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."
Olshey has said many times that he talks with Aldridge all the time and keeps him involved in everything, so when Olshey signs and acquires players with 2 years left on their contract- leaving little cap space to work with next offseason(the MLE only?)- but they both are saying that the team will somehow be ok this season and compete but great the next season then they must be looking at a big trade in the next year.
Neil Olshey after the offseason:
"I think what was important for LaMarcus is we weren't 'rebuilding,' that we were rebuilding our talent base in terms of youth to get some talent on the roster and some asset value, but that we were willing to compete right away, too. And this is another signing that signals that."
When I've read this quote it seems a little bit odd to me. For instance talking about "willing to compete" is interesting, like it'll hurt his own plan but he's "willing" to do it for Aldridge's sake. Also, talking about your offseason as just acquiring "asset value" doesn't make it sound like those players are in your long term plans but pieces he's planning on flipping.
"The Blazers didn't shake things up, but I think they are positioning themselves. I think right now they're trying to be a team that can shed salary and create space. I like their Thomas Robinson pickup, it really didn't cost them much. If you think about it, the Thunder were doing that for a while. They were just picking up pieces that other teams were jettisoning. I think now, the model for a lot of teams are the Houston Rockets. How Daryl Morey just accumulated assets and people wondered what he was doing and when he was going to make a move. Guess what, when he had the chance, he was able to cash in with James Harden and Dwight Howard. Portland, if they're creative with Neil Olshey, and if Paul Allen is willing to use the resources, it's going to have to be a trade. You're not going to get free agents there. They're going to have to be position themselves. They have attractive assets that they can package for a trade to get that A-list guy if they want to be truly competitive."
I have to agree with Chris Haynes 100%. This team looks like they're ready or preparing for a big splash soon. There seems to be a big trade brewing on the horizon for this team, but whether that trade is this year before the trade deadline or next summer remains to be seen.
So my question is, who of all the Trailblazers players do you view as an asset that is going to be the main piece or at least a most likely piece in a blockbuster deal?
Aldridge? If he's really in Olshey's plans then I don't see him getting moved unless he demands a trade or all other trade options to improve the team's short term success fail.
Lopez? I could see him being acquired just to help facilitate a deal acquiring another team's starting or excess starter quality player(like Asik) that would still need a solid backup.
Batum? Personally I think Batum will be the player that is the key to acquiring an All-Star caliber player to pair with Lillard and Aldridge. A stop by storytellers contracts(http://storytellerscontracts.com/) will show you that Batum sticks out like a sore thumb as the only Trailblazer to have guaranteed money through 2015-2016. Making around $11.3 million this year I think it's time we cash in on Batum's "potential" with other assets to get a consistent All-Star caliber player.
Lillard? Sure there may be riots in Portland but if a trade for a perennial young All-Star that could take the team to the next level could be made then the smooth talking NeO may be able to justify the move.
Matthews? It seems like everyone has an opinion on whether Matthews is starter material for the team or whether his 3 and D skills are best off the bench. He has a reasonable contract and solid averages with good character so could he be most likely to be traded?
Robinson? Maybe the team is hoping that if given ample playing time that Robinson will prove to be worthy of his draft selection and improve his trade stock and flipping him with others could net a game changer.
Wright? He's on a cheap contract and if he could get back to where those GSW numbers were at he could really be a bargain and someone a team either rebuilding and wanting quality cheap players or a contender looking to cut costs could want to acquire.
Freeland? If he finally showed the skills he proved in Europe then maybe a team could want him as an addition to a larger deal.
Williams? Another player whose contract is a bargain for his skills so a rebuilding team looking for a character veteran to help guide the youngsters or a contender looking for a scoring punch while maybe cutting costs could be interested.
McCollum? He sure seems to have some fans around the league at least drooling over him, I was a little shocked to see quite a few Timberwolves fans think he has a higher ceiling and more potential than Lillard. Maybe if he proves to be a stud out of the gate but his skills become too redundant with Lillard then we could flip him for an instant needle mover?
Leonard? Maybe a team shedding salary or looking to rebuild would want to see what he's capable of if given the playing time and opportunity to start.
Claver? A cheap glue guy that could be a wanted throw in for a big deal.
Barton? He did show some potential in that dreadful end to last season, his potential could be intriguing to a team if he shows anything early in the season like that again.
Crabbe? Not really a fan of the pickup but maybe he shows potential in Stott's offense and garners interest a big trade throw in addition.
Watson? Maybe a team wants a role model for a young team or is desperate for a PG throw in.
So who's the player you think is most likely to be dealt this season if Olshey decides to make a move before next offseason? Been a boring last couple of weeks so anyone bold enough to predict the player we'll acquire before the season starts and we see how this unfolds, and what asset is sure to be dealt in that trade?