A winning culture, shrewd GM convinces Aldridge Portland is the place for him

A winning culture, shrewd GM convinces Aldridge Portland is the place for him
January 13, 2014, 9:15 pm
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(Steve Dykes | USA Today Sports Images)

There wasn’t a moment. There was no magical feeling. No single play that stood out. LaMarcus Aldridge simply woke up one morning and realized he wanted to remain a Portland Trail Blazer.

When Aldridge broke the news to the great Kerry Eggers over at the Portland Tribune that he wanted to get an extension done, he said he felt it was just time to address his future desires publicly.

“I just decided to say it,” Aldridge told CSNNW.com. “I couldn’t tell you when I wanted to commit here. All I know is that I want to be here. I didn’t have that moment or anything like that, and I don’t know when I started to feel like this. But I want to be here.”

Up until this news surfaced, Aldridge refused to discuss his future in Portland and often gave the “I just want to focus on the now” response. He was discontent with the way Portland finished last season off and reports of him wanting out shortly followed.

General manager Neil Olshey went to work, swooping up Robin Lopez and Thomas Robinson for basically nothing. Dorell Wright and Mo Williams were also added, resulting in a surprising 28-9 record.

So when Aldridge was asked what made him change his non-committal stance on Portland, his reply was predictable and understandable.

“Because the team is better,” he said. “We’re headed in the right direction. We should be in the championship picture in a couple of years if we keep improving. That’s what I want. I want to win and we’re winning now. I’m happy.

“Neil did a great job of bringing in what we needed. He worked with me throughout the process. I’m happy. We’re winning and we look good. Look, I just want to win.”

Mo Williams went public last week, stating he would opt out of the second year of his deal in order to secure a long-term deal in Portland. He has repeatedly said that he and his family love the city.

Damian Lillard expressed that same sentiment.

“Portland just fits me,” Lillard told CSNNW.com. “This is home to me. I’m very comfortable here. I think once guys spend a decent amount of time here, they’ll start to love it too.”

Is Portland’s perception of not being an attractive NBA destination changing? Aldridge doesn’t know about that. He says it has more to do with the guys that are already here aspiring to remain here.

And the guys here are pretty good, unlike the past rosters he was a part of.

“I just feel like we have guys that’s here that want to be here that’s playing good,” he said. “That’s all that matters. The perception doesn’t matter to me. It’s about whoever is here, wanting to be here and being all in and committed. If I’m committed, I think that’s good for the rest of them.”