Nicolas Batum told HoopsHype.com that he thinks Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge is still the No.1 guy on the Blazers despite Damian Lillard's rise to stardom last season, and that he doesn't believe Aldridge has demanded a trade.
Who do you think is going to be the No. 1 guy on the team?
NB: Although Damian had a great rookie season and has unbelievable talent and a bright future in front of him, I think LaMarcus [Aldridge] is our go-to guy. He is our franchise player. Damian may be a Top 10 point guard in the league right now, but LaMarcus is one of the best three power forwards and maybe No. 1.
There have been these rumors that he has privately demanded a trade from Portland...
NB: I heard that too and I laughed when I read that. He doesn't want to get traded, he wants the team to get better. LaMarcus is a winner.
He has told you that?
NB: I mean, I know that's what he wants. We had two bad seasons and missed the playoffs and wants the team to improve. I think he didn't ask for a trade. He wants to stay and win with the Blazers. He just wants a better team around him so we can get back to the playoffs.
Couple interesting notes here. There's obviously a little bit of a tug here between Aldridge, who for years was passed over as "the guy" in Portland for Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, only to become the best player of the three, and Lillard, who was the source of the revival of the Blazers as a team last season. Batum sayig this follows a support line that's pretty typical. Veterans are going to back the older guy, and it's a little more important to protect Aldridge's ego.
He's also right. Just based off experience and skill level, Aldridge is better. Aldridge is a top-five power forward in the NBA, Lillard's just starting his career.
There have been rumors over the summer that Aldridge has asked the Blazers for a trade, which Aldridge and the Blazers have denied. What's notable here is that usually teammates will give their fellow players room. They'll say "Aldridge is a winner" or something like that, instead of out and out stating that he hasn't asked for a trade. It's rare to see a player get involved in another player's business. Maybe that's a sign of where Aldridge stands on the issue, or just that Batum doesn't tend to think about that stuff much.
Either way, for now at least, it looks like things are quiet on the Aldridge trade front.