The Portland Trail Blazers are heading into a summer in which they might lose a lot of free agents, including Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge. If indeed they lose their starting frontcourt, we’ll see them turning to Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons and/or DeAndre Jordan of the Los Angeles Clippers.
Lopez is likely to stay, but you never know. The Blazers, a franchise with plenty of history and success in the NBA, isn’t exactly a free agent magnet, and rumblings since the playoff exit suggest that Aldridge won’t be fulfilling his words and sorta promise from the beginning of the season, when he suggested he wants a five-year deal in order to stay in Portland. The postseason disappointment might have caused him to want a different, more central spot.
Lopez himself doesn’t have that kind of pull and interest around the league. He’s a solid starting center, a good rebounder and capable defensively, but far from the kind of big man who commands a maximum salary or even close to that. It’s likely that the Blazers keep him without having to overpay or overextend, but just like Wesley Matthews is an unknown regarding his decision, Lopez is the same vicinity.
If the Blazers do lose Aldridge, they’re going to try and sign a big man of note. Right now, with Aldridge, Matthews and Lopez being free agents, they have almost $30 million in cap space to use. That’s the kind of money that can land them someone like DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers who’ll be asking for a max contract, and the same goes for Greg Monroe of the Detroit Pistons, who took a qualifying offer last season in order to make himself available sooner than intended.
Jordan is better than Lopez, but both him and Monroe don’t fill the shoes of Aldridge, if he does leave. A lot of Portland’s plans for the future hinge on Aldridge staying and establishing himself as the franchise’s greatest player ever. It’ll be a tough blow to overcome if he chooses it’s time for him to leave the Northwest.