FRIDAY, 12:09am: Blazers GM Neil Olshey denies having heard from Aldridge that he’ll sign elsewhere, as The Oregonian’s Joe Freeman relays. “I hung up with LaMarcus a half-hour ago … he was as bemused by the report as I was,” Olshey said.
THURSDAY, 3:48pm: Rumors have been piling up in recent days indicating that LaMarcus Aldridge will be leaving the Blazers this summer in free agency. Apparently, the Blazers now understand this to be fact. The multiple time All-Star has informed the Blazers that he will not return to them, a Western Conference executive with knowledge of the situation told Erik Gundersen of The Columbian.
Aldridge, 30 in July, has made four consecutive All-Star game appearances over the last four years. Despite his stellar play, he has yet to reach the Western Conference Finals with Portland. The Spurs, Lakers, Knicks, and Mavs have all been heavily connected to the big man and the Hawks and Cavs were mentioned as possibilities by Marc Stein and Chris Broussard of ESPN.com earlier today. Teams, meanwhile, are reportedly grumbling that the allure of the Spurs will be hard to beat for anyone chasing Aldridge. The always ambitious Rockets are also going to try to get in the mix for Aldridge, as well as Cleveland forward Kevin Love.
One league executive told Gundersen that the trade of forward Nicolas Batum looked like “a rebuilding move,” and league sources say that the Blazers are “not done” dealing. On Wednesday, Batum was shipped to the Hornets in exchange for Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson. Batum had a weak season, appearing in 71 contests and averaging 9.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.8 assists. However, his work prior to last season was more impressive.