It wasn't that long ago when LaMarcus Aldridge was rumored to have developed a tired attitude toward the Portland Trail Blazers. He never admitted to any unhappiness, but it was clear this 2013-14 season was a monumental one if the Trail Blazers wanted to keep the talented power forward past his current contract, which ends after next season.
With a refreshing turnaround this season that has them near the top of the Western Conference, Aldridge apparently is satisfied. The power forward told CBS Sports' Ken Berger that he'd discuss an extension with the Blazers this summer.
"I haven't gotten that far into it because I want to wait until this summer," Aldridge said. "But at that point, we'll sit down and talk about it. ... If we're all on the same page, then I'm looking forward to it."
As comfort comes about in the NBA most of the time, Aldridge has developed trust in the higher-ups in Portland. He's seen the front office led by Neil Olshey draft well and build a winning roster around him
Aldridge has averaged 24.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per game for a Portland team with a 34-14 record and a third-place spot in the current Western Conference standings.
Gay unsure about player option
Q: Which way are you leaning in terms of opting into your contract for next season or opting out?
A: I'm not sure," he told Stein. "I have to go into the summer with my people, think about everything, weigh out the pros and cons. I don't know yet. But Sacramento's been great to me thus far. Obviously I'm trying to tune it all out right now. All I can think about right now is how great Sacramento's been to me.
Gay's value likely isn't what it once was when the Memphis Grizzlies inked him to a significant long-term deal, but he's certainly showed that he's a valuable asset nonetheless. The risk-reward discussion will, in general, be about taking a good deal of money in one year or take the longer contract.
If staying in Sacramento is his goal, picking up the option still has its drawbacks. The Kings would be pushing luxury tax territory if Gay exercises his option and all the current players return; point guard Isaiah Thomas could earn a pay increase from his rookie contract on top of it all. At the least, they wouldn't be able to go after any major additions unless there were a roster shakeup or two.
Asik could return within weeks
The Houston Rockets would like some reinforcements to help Dwight Howard on the frontline, and it's possible center Omer Asik could be the answer. Rockets coach Kevin McHale told the Houston Chronicle on Tuesday that he's hoping to have the big man back in seven to 10 days.
"Everything is not a definite," McHale said. "We're ‘hoping for' is what I'm getting."
"We really need Greg (Smith) or Omer to get back. They're starting to do a little bit more. Both have been without a basketball in their hand, actual live playing for so long. We're getting closer.
Asik has been sidelined since Dec. 2 because of a thigh injury, and since then, he's been noticeable only because of his trade requests. In mid-December, Houston and general manager Daryl Morey nearly obliged in moving Asik, who didn't fit well alongside Howard and didn't enjoy his role playing as a backup. They reportedly had a deal in place, but a proposed trade apparently fell apart.
Morey has made it clear that Asik might have to wait it out in Houston. His contract, which includes a significant raise that will pay him $15 million next season, has many teams apprehensive to discuss a trade with the Rockets. So in the interim, Houston could use him.
Forward Greg Smith has also missed a good deal of time for the Rockets with a knee injury, and either he or Asik will provide needed depth to a frontcourt that, along with Howard, only includes the 6'9 Terrence Jones and slim 7' offensive weapon Donatas Motiejunas.
Former assistant touts Bynum's character
Former Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham told the Indianapolis Star that center Andrew Bynum just needed the right fit. After a failed return from a knee injury in Philadelphia and then a short stint in Cleveland that saw the Cavs do everything to trade Bynum to the Chicago Bulls, who then waived him, the big man finally landed in Indiana.
Ham thinks it's a good fit.
"I really spent a lot of one-on-one time with him, been in group settings with him," Ham said. "He's really not a disruptive guy. He just wants to be left alone and left alone to play the game, plain and simple."
And as the locker room situation in Cleveland unwound following Bynum's departure, perhaps he too was distracted by something outside of his own control.
In an interview with ESPN's Colin Cowherd, Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard said that Bynum used a dinner to tell Pritchard, president Larry Bird and coach Frank Vogel that he wanted to fit in. That was enough to sell the Pacers on signing the big man.