Maybe the biggest name hitting free agency this offseason is LaMarcus Aldridge. If he indeed wants to leave the Portland Trail Blazers no matter what, maybe a sign & trade is the best route for the ball club to pursue, with the Chicago Bulls and the duo of Nikola Mirotic and Taj Gibson coming in handy.
Aldridge, one of the best power forwards in the NBA and one of the most consistent players in the league for the past few seasons is hitting free agency after a disappointing, five game, first round playoff exit. The Blazers seemed to take a step backwards when it comes to the bottom line, although it might be excuses by suggesting it all had to do with Wesley Matthews not playing against the Grizzlies in the postseason.
Regardless of what and who is to blame, the word coming out of Portland is that Aldridge, allegedly looking for a way out these last couple of years, has made up his mind and will try to find the best deal out there for him. Obviously, money-wise, he’ll be better off staying in Portland, but Aldridge might be looking for a bigger market. The Lakers and Knicks are both salivating over the option of signing him, but why would he want to go where contending isn’t really an option next year?
Chicago have been constantly mentioned as a place Aldridge wants to play for. While in the past the Bulls reportedly couldn’t come to an agreement about the players they were willing to give up on, things have changed. One of them is Joakim Noah, having a bad season and even worse playoff run, who was on the list of demands for the Blazers last time, almost two years ago. In 2015, the Bulls are willing to give him up if it lands them Aldridge, a big man who can score, and release the clog they have in the paint.
There’s also Taj Gibson who is on contract for two more seasons at $17.4 million, and Nikola Mirotic, who had a strong finish to the regular season but wasn’t very effective in the playoffs, partially because of an injury. There’s something that can be worked out by the Bulls, if Aldridge wants to go to Chicago. Right now, the power forward who was taken by the Bulls in the 2006 draft before the trade that helped Portland get rid of Tyrus Thomas, has all the cards in his hands.
So Noah & Gibson for Aldridge? That hurts the Bulls defensively, but their offense seems to get better. It gives Mirotic more minutes and a player who can stretch the floor and doesn’t look awkward when the ball is in his hands. There’s also the Gibson-Mirotic option although Mirotic isn’t a player the Bulls should give up on just yet; he’s too young and has a great upside. The Blazers will probably want more than the two of them, although Gibson could be a starter on a lot of teams, especially if Portland lose Robin Lopez as well.