LaMarcus Aldridge has been dealing with a groin injury since February 8th, when he stressed it against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He soldiered on to play the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers in the Trail Blazers’ toughest back-to-back of the season. It appears that a few days rest over the NBA All-Star break was not enough to bring him to full health; especially after participating in the All-Star game on Sunday.
The Portland Trail Blazers have been the only team to use the same starting five in every game this season. That streak will come to an end tomorrow night when the Trail Blazers host the San Antonio Spurs. Aldridge will be re-evaluated next week to see if he can safely return to action.
In his absence, look for an increase in playing time for Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright, and Victor Claver (Meyers Leonard will miss 2-3 weeks with a sprained left ankle). This is Thomas Robinson’s time to shine. Through 115 career games, Robinson has never started, despite being selected 5th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. If Terry Stotts plugs him into the starting lineup, he will have a golden (albeit short-lived) opportunity to prove his metal.
The absence of LaMarcus Aldridge is also huge for Victor Claver, who has played only four total minutes this season. With the small ball pseudo-success Portland experienced with Wright and Lopez playing 4 & 5 against the Clippers, Claver will likely slide into the backup small forward position behind Nicolas Batum. The 25 year old sophomore needs to prove he is capable of contributing in a meaningful way if he hopes to remain in rotation after Aldridge’s return.
From a conspiracy standpoint, it may be worth noting that Portland’s two most likely trade pieces are getting a heavy dose of spotlight the night before the NBA trade deadline. It is probably mere coincidence, but it does seem strange that Aldridge would miss time now after playing through multiple games and having several days rest. Not worth reading into, but ponderous nonetheless.