The Trail Blazers aren't going to talk about it and either is LaMarcus Aldridge, but there must be some serious thinking going on right now at One Center Court about trading Aldridge.
There has to be, because keeping Portland's all-star power forward until he becomes a free agent could be risky business.
First, though, let's briefly dismiss the idea that he's going to sign a contract extension this summer. Yes, Aldridge could do so -- but it would likely cost him millions of dollars and he'd be crazy to do it. Aldridge will earn a little more than $16 million in the upcoming final season of his contract and an extension would have to be built off that salary. The most he could earn off a three-year extension from the Trail Blazers is about $55.5 million. On the other hand, the projections on what he could make off a five-year deal from Portland as a free agent totals more than $127 million.
It makes no sense for him to take the smaller figure now with a bigger number looming if he has another top-notch season.
But free agency is a dangerous thing. Yes, Aldridge will be able to earn more money for a longer period of time if he stays with the Trail Blazers. And he seems very happy here right now. Certainly, though, a lot can happen between now and next July. It's not a given that Portland will be able to repeat this season's success next year. For sure, just one fairly serious injury to a starter would threaten any chance of even a 50-win season.
And then there would be questions about whether this team has topped out with its current roster makeup.
That's when the lure of a return to his home in Dallas -- or to major-media centers that would afford him the opportunity for more endorsements and outside-earning potential, or a chance for a championship run -- would threaten the Trail Blazers' efforts to re-sign him.
With a draft coming up featuring some very attractive prospects and Aldridge at his most tradeable, there's no question that if the Trail Blazers aren't thinking about potential Aldridge deals, they should be. And the fans of this franchise must be mature enough to accept that.
It's not personal. It's business.