James Harden’s potential availability on the NBA trade market has dominated the headlines for several weeks. Just below Harden’s marquee billing is a list of other valuable players that are positioned for a change of scenery. On name that could be on that second list: former Trail Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge.
Now at 35 years old, Aldridge finds himself in the final year of his current contract on a roster with a burgeoning youth movement. With that in mind, CBS Sports NBA contributor Sam Quinn listed a return to Portland for Aldridge inside his post that featured five potential trades for 2021.
Quinn’s theoretical trade is built on a package that would use Rodney Hood’s unique contract as a starting point.
Yes, this one is sappy. It’s also probably ill-advised in basketball terms. Carmelo Anthony serves the function Aldridge likely would in a return to Portland. But, darn it, 2021 owes us some sentimentality after the 2020 we just endured. Aldridge is on an expiring deal and playing for a non-contending Spurs team that should really start dedicating its shots and minutes to youngsters. Portland has Rodney Hood’s unusual contract, worth $10 million this season but completely non-guaranteed for the 2021-22 campaign, to help grease the wheels. Enes Kanter could serve as the rest of the salary flotsam, and one of Portland’s lesser youngsters like Anfernee Simons or Nassir Little could fill the value quota.
After touching on the structure of the hypothetical trade, Quinn explained that adding Aldridge to the Blazers’ current rotation could push Portland’s offense to a new, even higher, level.
Does it help Portland’s already questionable defense? No. But a team starting Aldridge, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic would challenge for the NBA’s best offense. If Portland thinks it can win almost exclusively on that end of the floor, there’s hope for this sort of deal, and Lillard has already given it his blessing.
Last season, Aldridge averaged 18.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game in 53 contests with Spurs. Prior to signing with the Spurs in the 2015 offseason, Aldridge put together a stellar nine-year run together with the Blazers. During his 648-game stint in Portland, the former Texas standout posted averages of 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per outing.
You can read the full list from Quinn at CBS Sports.