Leo Sepkowitz of SlamOnline.com has an interview with Portland Trail Blazers All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge that includes a discussion of his future with the team.
SLAM: In your rookie year, Roy won Rookie of the Year, and now this year Lillard won Rookie of the Year, too. Obviously they play different positions, but they both scored at an elite level early in their careers. What do you see in terms of similarities?
LA: Oh, they're really different. I think they're both elite players at their position. Brandon was a 2-guard, Damian's a 1-that's a difference right there. I see them being very different. Damian's a really, really good three-point shooter, and Brandon was a good mid-range shooter and getting to the basket and getting fouled. He shot more free throws than a lot of people when he played. So I see them both being very tough-minded in their first year and having something to prove, so that's pretty similar. But other than that, I think they both were pretty different. Damian's a pretty dynamic scorer since he can hit threes and make tough shots. I thought Brandon was very court savvy. He used his skills to get to the basket a lot and get fouled.
SLAM: Right now in Portland between you, Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nic Batum and JJ Hickson, that's a really strong starting five that can hang with anybody's. What do you think about this core?
LA: Yeah, I think it's definitely a good core. As guys keep getting older and keep growing-it's Damian's first year so as he gets older at that point guard position-we'll be better and make better decisions. And as Nic gets more comfortable with being more of a playmaker for us-I think he's been one of the top players at his position. He's a dog, he does it all. He makes threes, he plays defense, he just leaves it out there every night. You need a guy like that on your team. So I think that core is definitely good and JJ is an energy player who drives to the rim and finishes really well and gets boards. You need that guy who's gonna be a high-energy player.
SLAM: You're under contract for two more years. There have been rumors that the Cavs might float, say, Tristan Thompson and the No. 1 pick for you. How do you feel about your future in Portland?
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 Blazers GM Neil 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, is under contract through the 2014-15 season.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter