The Portland Trail Blazers Are Stuck In The Middle

LaMarcus Aldridge

While the Portland Trail Blazers improved their roster by adding CJ McCollum and Allen Crabbe on draft night and trading future second round picks for Houston's Thomas Robinson, the team is still a long shot to make the playoffs next season. However, falling into the lottery of next year's NBA draft could be a blessing in disguise for the Blazers. Paul Allen's team most likely will not be in the Andrew Wiggins sweepstakes, but in a draft class that could include phenomenal players such as Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, and the Harrison twins, a lottery pick could bring another franchise player to Portland.

A move that would certainly send the Blazers plummeting into the bottom of the NBA standings would be trading away LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge, a 2-time All-Star and one of the league's best power forwards, has attracted the attention of many NBA general managers. Before draft night, the Cleveland Cavaliers offered their No. 1 overall selection (that materialized into UNLV's Anthony Bennett) and their No. 19 pick (Sergey Karasev) for Aldridge, but this offer was promptly spurned by the Blazers front office. Another offer came in from the Golden State Warriors, who offered All-Star PF David Lee and Brandon Rush for Aldridge. This offer was also rejected by the Blazers.

Even with Aldridge, it's hard to imagine the Blazers making the playoffs in the incredibly competitive Western Conference. The biggest question for the Blazers front office is to determine if Aldridge, 27, is happy in Portland and whether or not he will sign with the team when his current contract expires in 2014-2015. Aldridge is still a young player and barring injuries, will be productive for many more years in the league. If Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Nicolas Batum, and Meyers Leonard reach their potentials in the coming years, then the Blazers can contend in the playoffs with Aldridge as a second option.

All in all, while Aldridge remains on the team, the Blazers are stuck in the middle. They won't be terrible enough like the Charlotte Bobcats to vie for the No. 1 overall pick in next year's loaded draft class. Also, they won't be an elite team like the Miami Heat or the Oklahoma City Thunder and have no chance at competing for a Western Conference title. The Blazers have a decision to make about Aldridge's future with the team, and it won't be an easy one. However, while the team continues to contemplate, the Blazers may miss out on the most stellar draft class since the one that brought LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade into the league.

About Arran Gimba