LaMarcus Aldridge

Without a lot of cap space to make new signings or any draft picks, the Portland Trail Blazers were focused on extending the contract of LaMarcus Aldridge as their big news of the offseason. The problem is that their big star wants to wait until he becomes a free agent next year, although he promises he’s not planning on playing anywhere else.

So if LaMarcus Aldridge really doesn’t want to leave the Portland Trail Blazers, why is he withholding signing an extension now, instead carrying on this situation to the next offseason, when he’ll be a free agent and can actually sign for someone else? If Aldridge is speaking the truth and is intent on staying with the Blazers, it’s simply about the money and the length of the contract, which makes sense.

Aldridge can sign a five-year, $108 million extension now. He has one more season left on the $65 million contract he signed in 2009, making $16 million next season. He can make more than the $21.6 million per year he will if he signs an extension now as a free agent. Obviously, he’ll be free to sign with another team as well for a max salary, but no one will be able to give him the kind of money the Blazers will be able to.

Aldridge wants to stay, unlike the rumors that were swirling around him and the franchise last season, when it seemed the Chicago Bulls were close to pulling off a trade that brings them the player they drafted and traded on the same night in 2006. After making the playoffs and reaching the conference semifinal, the atmosphere is different. This is a franchise on the rise that didn’t get any draft picks but has options of improving their bench, maybe their most important goal for this offseason besides extending Aldridge.

I’m happy to stay, happy to be here, happy with the direction the team has gone the last year or two. This has no impact on my interest in staying in Portland. I just want to get a five-year deal. I feel like that’s the best decision on my part. I don’t want it to be perceived that I’m not happy or I’m not staying on because I’m not signing a three-year deal. It’s just financially smarter to wait and I’m looking forward to signing the five-year deal when the chance comes. I want to be the best Blazer ever. If I stay the rest of my career, I should be able to catch Clyde. I should be able to leave a mark on a big-time franchise that is going to be seen forever. And I will be able to say I played here my whole career. This city has embraced me and grown with me. I have so much history, it just makes sense to stay.

Aldridge averaged 23.2 points and 11.1 rebounds last season, his best since entering the league eight years ago, in totals, averages and per minute numbers. He did miss 13 games with an injury. But the Blazers have more to think about when it comes to new deals, because Robin Lopez and Wesley Matthews will also need to extend their contracts, unless the Blazers have different plans for them. They just need to hope this season doesn’t convince Aldridge to do something else.

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