Anyone that had any doubt that LaMarcus Aldridge is a bonafide superstar in this league has been proven wrong early in this playoff series against the Houston Rockets. Through two games Aldridge has racked up 99 points, 26 rebounds, and 5 blocked shots. Even more important than those video game numbers, the Trail Blazers have taken control of this first round series by winning both games in Houston and set for a game 3 matchup back in Rip City.
Superstars show up when it counts and Aldridge has really shown that he is capable of playing with, and beating the best. Being matched up against Dwight Howard is a very good measuring stick for the Portland big man. Howard has been crowned as one of the top big men in the league. Despite a couple injuries and an abundance of off-court drama, Howard is still lauded as one of the most dominant post players since Shaq. Even with the hype and expectations, there is no question that Aldridge has absolutely dominated the front court battle.
All of this excitement surrounding the Texas-native Aldridge once again raises the question: Is he a long-term, franchise leader for the Portland Trail Blazers?
If anybody has any question whether Aldridge should be a franchise building block, that person has not watched any basketball this season and has been asleep during these last two postseason games. Aldridge is a dominant force, and unlike so many other players that get complacent, he is continually progressing and adding to his game.
Portland Trail Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey has said that he doesn’t talk about contracts until the off-season, but he is crazy if he hasn’t called his good friend, and Aldridge’s agent, Arn Tellum. Aldridge is very deserving of a huge contract and it would be huge for the franchise to sign Aldridge this off-season as opposed to letting this saga drag into next season and then into free-agency the following off-season.
Aldridge is under contract through next season for around $15,256,000. The complexities of the Collective Bargaining Agreement make it nearly impossible for a many people to foresee what the contract will look like that is on the table this summer. In 2010 Aldridge signed a 5 yr./$65,000,000 contract.
Back to the comparison with Howard. Last summer when Howard made his highly publicized decision to leave the Los Angeles Lakers to join the Houston Rockets, he was signed to a 4-year deal worth reportedly $87,591,270. Since Aldridge will (hopefully) be signing with the team he is currently on, he can sign a 5-year deal.
That phone call needs to be made! Olshey needs to make sure that Tellem knows there is a 5 yr./$100,000,000 contract on the table as soon as the final whistle of the season blows. The Blazers have let too many players leave before or during their prime and can’t let their ego or hesitation let one of the best players in franchise history walk next summer.
With one of the richest owners in all of professional sports, an overachieving season, and an electrified city, Aldridge needs a new contract this summer. As all of us wait for Game 3 on Friday, the team practices, the coaches watch film, and Olshey needs to be on the phone!