Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com Insider weighs in on whether the Portland Trail Blazers should shop All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge in trades.
The short answer is no. Teams seek to trade star-caliber players for a handful of reasons: Either you think you can get someone better; there isn't a good fit basketball-wise (such as multiple talents at the same position); the player in question is much older than the rest of the team (i.e. by the time the team is in its prime contention window, the star will have fallen back to earth); or the team is facing a catastrophic salary-cap scenario (or overextended pick obligations) that basically demands the franchise move a marketable asset in return for flexibility to improve the team.
In Portland's case, none of these issues are applicable. Trading Aldridge would not yield a frontcourt talent of equal or better value. He still fits a tremendous need as an All-Star caliber scoring big alongside versatile wing Nic Batum and sophomore sensation point guard Damian Lillard; he's just a few years older than his teammates; and the Blazers' cap situation is flexible for the time being, while they owe only one future first-round pick (protected).
Having said that, Aldridge could still stand to make improvements to his game to better serve Portland. His shot selection has drifted farther and farther from the basket in each subsequent year, and while it's nice to have that offensive versatility out of the power forward position, Aldridge needs to remember what makes him special is his ability to score in the post. Also, while he posted a career-high defensive rebounding percentage last season, his offensive rebounding percentage was a career low, partially because of that shot selection. Look for the addition of Robin Lopez as a space-eating center to help free up Aldridge to snag more boards.
Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com points out that there is another possible reason for teams to trade star-caliber players.
The idea of trading Aldridge has never been about talent. The question is whether he'll be looking for greener pastures if he chooses to hit the free agent market in a few years. And ElHassan is right that they Portland would be very unlikely to get back a player as good, let alone better, than Aldridge.
Aldridge's name has been in trade rumors throughout the summer.
Blazers GM Neil Olshey recently said that Aldrige is "happy."
Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com reported that Aldridge's representatives met with Blazers GM Neil Olshey in Las Vegas to discuss trade possibilities.
Olshey told Blazersedge in July that his discussions with Aldridge would remain private, but that Aldridge was "pleased" with Portland's 2013 offseason.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts told Blazersedge in July that he's received no indication of unhappiness from Aldridge this summer.
Earlier this summer, Aldridge told multiple media outlets, including The Oregonian, 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.
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 Olshey to request a trade.
Haynes previously reported that Aldridge "loves Portland" but is interested in a trade if substantial improvements to the roster aren't made. The Chicago 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." 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.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter