With extension signed and press conference completed, Aldridge can retreat to his comfort zone: playing second fiddle. Indeed, Aldridge will earn nearly max compensation without needing to deal with the single-minded scrutiny that usually accompanies that kind of paycheck. Sure, detractors will continue to get on him for his “softness” and modest rebounding numbers, but as long as Brandon Roy is around and healthy, Roy will garner more accolades and bear the bulk of the responsibility when things don’t go as planned. It seems like a trade-off — less fame but less criticism — that Aldridge is happy to make.
How much was Scottie Pippen worth? While Aldridge is certainly light years away from belonging in the same conversation as Pippen, Aldridge shows the same willingness to sublimate his game for the good of the team and play the sidekick role (yes, Brandon Roy is Michael Jordan in this analogy, and, no, Ron Artest did not contribute to this post). This is uncommon in the NBA. Just in the last decade or so, both the Shaq-Kobe Lakers and the SSOL-era Suns have fallen victim to clashing egos, as stars fought over accolades and crunchtime shots. While the Blazers almost certainly overpaid to extend Aldridge, locking in a young player whose personality fits into their overall team concept, and who still has a rather high ceiling make this deal more than defensible for Portland.
The other key consideration is that the Aldridge extension removes any distraction/uncertainty for Aldridge. As Blazersedge points out:
Star or not, LaMarcus Aldridge is now able to do what he hasn’t yet done as a Blazer: get fully comfortable. His path is set, his role is clear, his immediate future is all laid out, his every financial need taken care of.
All that’s left now is the basketball.
As the Baby Bulls or Clippers of the early 2000s could tell you, nothing can rip apart a team of promising youngsters faster than everyone playing for himself, trying to secure a big second contract. By removing this distraction, the Blazers have put the focus back on the court. Which is good news for Blazers fans.