Portland Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge has decided not to sign a contract extension this summer, according to Joe Freeman of the Oregonian. This news comes as a surprise to no one, since by waiting for one year Aldridge can sign a five-year $108 million deal instead of the three-year $55 million deal that was on the table.
Once again, this is not especially notable, and the decision just makes the most sense for Aldridge. By waiting, he can get a longer deal, more money, and the chance to go somewhere else next year if he really feels like Portland is no longer the place for him to be (which Blazer fans desperately hope is not the case).
What is more notable, though, are Aldridge’s comments on the matter. They suggest that Aldridge is deeply committed to staying in Portland, something that was up in the air as recently as last off-season. While this season’s success certainly bolstered the chances of Aldridge staying, these most recent comments are the strongest indication yet that Aldridge wants to stay.
It appears as if his legacy as a Trail Blazer has been weighing on his mind, as he alluded to his place in the record books several times. Perhaps most noticeably, he flat-out stated, “I want to be the best Blazer – ever.” And, even more specifically, he mentioned going after Clyde Drexler – widely considered the best Blazer of all time:
“If I stay the rest of my career, I should be able to catch Clyde by then. I should be able to leave a mark on a big-time franchise that is going to be seen forever.”
If Aldridge does in fact stay in Portland, this goal may very well be attainable. Aldridge is only 28 years old, and is now entering the prime of his career. If all goes according to plan, the rest of that career will take place in Portland.