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Are the Blazers shopping LaMarcus Aldridge?

By Royce Young | NBA writer
Aldridge rumor surfaces. (Getty Images)

As the Trail Blazers retool, rebuild and reload around rookie sensation Damian Lillard, there's a question as to if All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is going to be part of the plan.

Aldridge is an incredibly potent offensive player and with his pick-and-pop ability, seems like an ideal fit alongside the penetration oriented Lillard. But he's on a big contract and potentially a tad disgruntled with the team mired in another rebuilding state.

So, could the Blazers be shopping him for young talent or assets? According to the Oregonian, there are rumblings about that, but general manager Neil Olshey is laughing that talk off.

During the Blazers' recent homestand, a respected and veteran beat reporter approached me and told me that an assistant coach for the team he covered said the Blazers are shopping LaMarcus Aldridge.

I chuckled, because earlier that night, I spoke with Olshey about the trading deadline, which is now eight weeks away. In a nutshell, Olshey said the Blazers will likely be built through the draft and free agency, not trades -- and certainly not mid-season trades.

Still, on Wednesday before the Kings game, I felt obliged to corner the whirlwind that is Olshey.

I asked him directly if he is shopping Aldridge. It was as if I had told Olshey the best joke he had ever heard. In fact, I think he is still laughing as I write this.

Olshey said he has made zero calls to other teams about Aldridge. He did say he has fielded one inquiry from another team, but it was more exploratory in nature, that team feeling the Blazers out. And he said he has no plans to make any future calls about Aldridge as February approaches.

So Olshey, the decision-maker for the Blazers, essentially dismissed the talk the Blazers are shopping Aldridge. In the NBA world of deceit and misdirection, it's hard to know who exactly is telling the truth, but there certainly is some interest in Aldridge leaguewide. I mean, who wouldn't be if he was thought at all to be available?

Aldridge was asked a few weeks ago about trade speculation and took a very pragmatic view.

"Nobody is safe. Nobody," Aldridge told CSNNW.com. "You can never get too comfortable in this league. It's a business. I don't look at myself and think I can't be touched. I'm just being real. All I can do is go out there and play basketball to the best of my ability."

In October, Aldridge said he was told he wouldn't be traded for at least two years. Relevant: Aldridge has three years left on his contract.

Aldridge, 27, is still a franchise cornerstone kind of player and is having a very productive season for the overachieving Blazers that sit at 14-13 and currently in the final playoff spot in the West.

Dealing Aldridge now really doesn't make much sense. What would the Blazers be looking for in return? A high pick? A young player? Aldridge has a favorable contract, he's productive, he's big and he fits. Why transition to something else?

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