LaMarcus Aldridge and Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey met earlier this month to discuss Aldridge's future in Portland and the team's direction over the next several years, reports Jason Quick of the Oregonian. Quick hears from Aldridge and Olshey that two main points came out of the meeting: The Blazers have no plans to trade Aldridge over the next two years, and the team intends to pursue an accomplished veteran in free agency next summer.
Having undergone a significant roster overhaul this summer, the Blazers have a young team this season. At age 27, Aldridge represents the veteran presence on a roster whose core pieces include Nicolas Batum (23), Wesley Matthews (26), Damian Lillard (22), and Meyers Leonard (20). Given the Blazers' relative youth and inexperience, and the way Portland's last franchise player, Brandon Roy, was set aside by the club, Aldridge approached Olshey to inquire about the rebuilding process and his role with the franchise. He left the meeting pleased with the answers he received.
"What I took from this meeting that made me more confident was that this isn't a total rehaul," Aldridge said. "He said we have young guys this year, but we have cap room next year, and we can bring in another older player, another good player, and that can help us get over the hump next year. He also said they still want this to be my team, for me to lead it, and that we aren't trying to get rid of you or trade you in the next year or two. That's the number one thing I wanted to hear."
With three years and nearly $44MM left on his current contract, Aldridge will be eligible for free agency in the summer of 2015. As for next summer, the Blazers figure to have about $50MM in contracts on the team's books, giving them room to be a player on the free agent market. The team could also clear close to another $7MM in salary if it turns down 2013/14 options for Luke Babbitt, Nolan Smith, and Elliot Williams.