HOUSTON – As Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge took questions from the media regarding his second consecutive All-Star appearance, I decided to take a different approach since there were tons of other All-Stars in the room.
The city of Portland has always had a long-standing knock against it from players around the association. It rains a lot and it's tucked all the way at the top of the left coast by itself, meaning more miles traveled than any other NBA team.
In today's era, warm weather climates or big city-types such as New York and Chicago are an attractive destination for young free agents.
Two years ago, Miami Heat forward Chris Bosh along with forward LeBron James, opted to take their talents to Miami, exiting Toronto and Cleveland. Bosh admitted that weather is a factor.
“It (weather) plays a part,” Bosh told CSNNW.com. “It plays a small part in it. But at the end of the day, it's about winning. If you have the opportunity to consider the climate, it's a very good thing to consider. But it's not too many cities like that. So, sometimes you just have to be realistic with it and think totally about basketball.”
Aldridge has played his entire seven-year career in Portland and says he's heard all of the complaints from his peers on why their first option wouldn't be to relocate to the Pacific Northwest.
But at the end of the day, the two-time All-Star is aware that money talks.
The Trail Blazers will have anywhere from $11.8 - $13.1 million in cap space this summer depending on a few variables. And Aldridge has made it clear that when he's recruiting, he will be sure to mention “cap room.”
“I can just say we have good fans, we have myself, Damian [Lillard], Nic [Batum] and a good young core and we have cap room,” he said.
When Aldridge said cap room, he said it with authority and then sat back up in his chair as if he just threw down a Royal Flush.
The new punitive luxury tax system that will go into effect for the 2013-14 season will surely bode well for the Trail Blazers and other small market teams. Big market franchises won't be so inclined to spend as in the past.
Which makes the Trail Blazers serious players this summer.
“The fanbase is number one, Dame and myself is two and having cap space is three,” Aldridge added.
Getting players to come to Portland might be an issue at first, but once they arrive, many players have made it their home post-playing career such as Brian Grant, Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter and Steve Blake to name a few.
The city of Portland love their Blazers' basketball and love their players. It's the only game in town and that's why the fans are so passionate about them. The Rose Garden is an electric building and opposing teams have taken notice of that.
Players love to play in a packed house and good players love to get paid. Portland can provide both.
“Portland is a cool city,” Bosh said. “I've been there in the summer. It gets cold sometimes. But everybody that I've talked to that plays out there, they love it out there. They seem to have great fans. It's a very tough place to play. So if you can play basketball, I think you can enjoy the city a lot more.”