LaMarcus Aldridge is preparing to be a very popular man in a few weeks. During the NBA regular season and playoffs, Aldridge all-but confirmed that he was going to hit free agency in the summer. The Portland Trail Blazers have tried to retain their power forward with a contract extension prior to the 2014-15 season, but Aldridge turned the deal down fully aware that he could earn more money this summer. As the Trail Blazers prepare to lose the forward, who is in the lead to acquire him?
According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Trail Blazers have come to the realization that Aldridge is not returning to the franchise. On Wednesday, the team made a move to acquire forward Nicolas Batum likely in preparation to replace Aldridge in the upcoming season. Sources are reporting that the forward is 99.9 percent out of Portland and intends on visiting a number of teams once the market opens in July. Stein reports this move has been in the works for some time now and Portland is not expected to put up a fight to retain him.
So who wins the Aldridge race come July 1? Stein reports that back in May, a Texas team had the upper hand for Aldridge as the forward aimed to return home and be closer to his mother and family. Both San Antonio and Dallas were named the frontrunners, but now the Lakers are making a strong push with the idea of pairing Aldridge with DeMarcus Cousins. ESPN continues to report Los Angeles is preparing to acquire the center in hopes that other free agents flock to play with him.
The Mavericks are not giving up on the idea of Aldridge. Dirk Nowitzki told the Dallas Morning News that he would love to play with Aldridge in the coming season. The Mavericks are back trying to figure out the best championship roster to put together. The team has been eyeing several big men as players like Tyson Chandler hit the open market. The issue is how much money the can afford to offer considering they also need to replace both Rajon Rondo and Monta Ellis.
According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas, the Mavericks are eyeing Wesley Matthews with a contract in hopes that it entices Aldridge to sign on. The two players are very close and functioned well together in Portland. The Boston Celtics were hoping to acquire Matthews and in return try and use that to get Aldridge. Now the Mavericks are making a move on that plan.
Nowitzki is still a player that can recruit other stars. They have more holes to fill on the roster than originally anticipated, but owner Mark Cuban plans on being overly aggressive to get things done and try and win a title in the competitive Western Conference.