Amick: Aldridge “happy,” thinks Blazers can “make noise”
USA Today’s Sam Amick caught up with LaMarcus Aldridge and asked Portland’s star big man about how he feels about the team.
After a summer where there were reports of Aldridge being unhappy, Amick finds out that at least right now while the team is riding high off two straight wins and a good preseason, he’s feeling good about things in Portland.
“I’m happy here right now,” Aldridge told USA TODAY Sports while sitting on a bench inside the team’s practice facility. “I feel like we have a team that can win, that can make noise, and I feel like if we buy in then anything is possible. So I’m happy, and it’s still my team and I’m playing well.
“I feel like the team has jelled around me. I feel like coach (Terry Stotts) has trusted me more this year to where I’m getting different opportunities that I didn’t get last year, so I think everything is going great right now.”
The cynics in the crowd will focus on the fact that Aldridge said ‘right now’ twice as if it was a subconscious qualifier of sorts, and that’s understandable given how the NBA culture programs us to assume young stars will long for the grass that isn’t always greener. But that much notwithstanding, this much is clear: he’s a whole lot happier now than he was at the end of last season.
In the here and now, Aldridge – who has two seasons and a combined $30 million left on his deal – said there is no desire to be traded or a request of any sort that general manager Neil Olshey move him to a better situation if that opportunity presents itself. And while rival front-office executives will certainly continue monitoring his situation, the league-wide belief is that he’s going nowhere unless a proposal includes, among other things, an All-Star player in return. When asked what the current message to management is, Aldridge said, “It’s not ‘If there’s a better deal, then get me out of (Portland) or take that. It’s ‘We’re here. Let’s win, and let’s try to have the best season that we can.'”
Obviously there is a lot of season left, 78 more games including tonight against the Houston Rockets. However, for a guy that’s averaging over 25 points a game and whose team is playing with confidence, there’s clearly no reason to not be happy.