UPDATE: According to the team, LaMarcus Aldridge (low back contusion) has upgraded to questionable vs. Atlanta. He will be a game-time decision.
Trail Blazers power forward LaMarcus Aldridge took questions from the media regarding his lower back contusion and his hopes of returning to the court for Portland’s game versus the Hawks in Atlanta on Thursday. Aldridge, who has missed the last seven games since taking a hard fall during Portland’s 103-90 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on March 12, discussed where he’s currently at with the injury, not being able to run without pain, the difficulty of watching the Blazers struggle from the bench and whether or not he thinks the Blazers are in danger of missing the playoffs.
LaMarcus Aldridge: “Running isn’t normal yet. Trying to stride out and run hasn’t felt normal. It’s felt better the last couple days. A back contusion messes with your S.I. joint and messes with your running. The last couple days have been better, so that’s been positive.”
Has the situation the team finds itself in accelerated your desire to get back?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “I wanted to play tonight, but I can’t run. So if you can’t run, what do you do? I’ve been wanting to come back. I didn’t think it would take this long but it ended up being more serious than we thought it was. I’ve just been trying to get back out there. It’s a process. We’ve done everything that we can do, the medical staff and myself. I’m going to work out tomorrow and then see how it feels.”
Do you think you might be able to play?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “Yeah. I say I’m trying to go no matter what. If I look good enough to play, then I’m going to play. It’s on the medical staff.”
When you look at this team, what do you see happening?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “Guys are tired. It’s a tough road trip and our shots aren’t falling right now. Guys are competing and playing hard, playing the right way. It’s just guys are tired. Hopefully I can try to come back next game and try to help out with that. Guys are playing hard, it’s just our shots are not falling and guys are just tired.”
When you came back from your hip injury you kept saying you were trying to get into a rhythm.
LaMarcus Aldridge: “I’ve had more time this time to workout. Last time I went from nothing to full speed to playing. This time it’s been more of a transition period of, let’s see you run, let’s see you shoot. I’ve worked out the last three to four days. It’s been more stationary shooting and minimal movement, but I’ve had more time to really find my rhythm. Last time I went from sitting on my couch and could move to playing. This time it’s been more of a transition period, so I think I’ll be fine.”
Your shot feels good?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “My shot feels great. It’s not really my game that I’m worried about, it’s just being able to move. My lateral quickness seems fine. It’s just running cause I hit that spot and when you flex back your glut it touches that spot that I really knocked on the floor. That’s my only worry.”
Is there a fear of this team not making the playoffs?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “I mean, it’s a sense of urgency to get wins, as it should be. We’ve definitely let ourselves slide too far and we all want to get wins right now and we understand the magnitude of trying to take care of business right now. So I think everybody knows the importance of winning right now.”
You say you can’t run, so going up and down is an issue?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “It’s gotten better. The last two days, it’s been better, but it’s not normal. I still had discomfort running and that’s why I wasn’t out there. I couldn’t really move but the last two days have been great.”
Have they banged on you at all to recreate what you’re going to get in a game?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “That’s tomorrow (laughs).”
How do you think that’s going to go?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “I think it’s going to go good. I’m hoping it’s going to go good. I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Have you been medically cleared to play?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “No I haven’t.”
Was the plan when this trip started was to come back against Atlanta?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “No it wasn’t.”
Was there a plan in your mind when you wanted to come back?
LaMarcus Aldridge: “No, it’s about when I could run and play. I feel like I’m getting close to that point so that’s what we’re going to try.”
Does the fact that the team is losing right now …
LaMarcus Aldridge: “Makes me want to play even worse? Yes it does. But it’s not about me, it’s about the medical staff and them saying I can play. I’ve been wanting to play but obviously if you can’t move then you can’t play.”
Greetings podcast enthusiasts. Between CJ McCollum getting an extension and Moe Harkless signing a new deal, Portland’s roster for the start of the 2016-17 regular season is all but finalized. So it seemed like a good time to hit the studio with Joe Freeman of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
On this edition, we discuss the near-max extension for McCollum and the four-year, roughly $40 million contract for Harkless, which directions Terry Stotts might go in terms of starting lineups and minutes allocations, the news that both Al-Farouq Aminu and Festus Ezeli will forego playing for Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Olympics, give a quick rundown of the preseason schedule and answer your Twitter-submitted questions.
Last weekend, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and his older brother, Errick, were guests on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss, amongst other things, The Basketball Tournament, which is billed as a “open application, 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament” in which the winning team takes home $2 million in prize money. Errick’s team, Overseas Elite, won the tournament last year and are in the finals, which airs Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific on ESPN, again this year.
But the tournament wasn’t the only topic of conversation, as any time you get two brothers together, you’re contractually obligated to ask them which is mom’s favorite. One one had, CJ still lives with his mom, so you might assume he’s the got the No. 1 son ranking sewn up, but it sounds like Errick was the much better behaved child and mom’s tend to have long memories, so it sounds like it’s a bit of a tossup.
“CJ, he was a good kid,” said Errick, “he just liked to get into things. He was really physical. She couldn’t take him around any other kids or he would, like, get into little altercations with them because he just played too rough.”
Sounds about right.
On Thursday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was a guest on The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio. Over the 15 minute conversation, Stotts discusses LeBron James saying he would have been his pick for 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, Kevin Durant signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, the notion of “super teams” in the NBA, having confidence in your players and his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive.
You can listen to the entire interview here, though I’m transcribed a portion which you can read below…
On LeBron James saying Stotts should have been Coach of the Year:
“To be honest, it felt pretty good. I have a lot of respect obviously for LeBron, what he does and what he’s done in his career, but for him to come out and say that, it made me feel good.”
On Cleveland winning the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 to Golden State:
“Obviously it was historical. A lot of things went into it, but when a team can do that and to win two games on the road being down 3-1, it’s really remarkable. It just put an end to a historical season as it was with Golden State and what they did during the regular season, the way they came back against Oklahoma City and then for Cleveland to do that, it was just remarkable. I thought it was a remarkable season to begin with and it finished that way.”
On Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors:
“My first reaction was he earned the right to be a free agent. I know a lot of thought went into it and it wasn’t a decision that he took lightly. I know he took a lot of criticism for making that decision but I think he earned that right to make whatever decision he felt was best for him. I think it’s going to be interesting with Golden State. Obviously defending them is going to be a challenge because — we talked about versatility — they were already an extremely talented offensive team and he’s going to make them better. They’re going to be a different team than they were last year, they’re not going to have the big guys. When you lose Festus Ezeli, who is on our team now, and Andre Bogut and Maurice Speights, the look of their frontline is going to be different. But I think they could be just as good just because of what they’ll be able to do at the offensive end.”
His thoughts on “super teams” in the NBA:
“You know, I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the league. I’ve just kind of accepted that that’s the way things are. I know people have made comparisons when LeBron went to Miami and that was supposedly the first super team and they won two championships, but it’s not like there was a five year, seven year run dynasty. When you get out on the court, you still have to play the games. Obviously Golden State is going to be very good, but you’ve got to play an 82-game season, you’ve got to go through four series to win a championship. I think the league does thrive on star power, whether it’s star power within a team or having a team be a star. I don’t know, I think the league is doing extremely well, I think it’s extremely popular. I think this is just another story that people are going to be interested in.”
On having confidence in shooters like Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum:
“I’m a big believer in confidence when shooting. It probably goes back to my freshman year in college when I didn’t know whether to shoot or (laughs) you know the phrase. But anyway, I’m a big believer in confidence and Allen and CJ are two different categories. CJ struggled with injuries his first two years and was trying to get incorporated into a roster that was winning 50 games and never really got into a rhythm. I think shooting is about rhythm and confidence. Same thing for AC, really, is that he did have opportunities to play in his first two years but he was playing behind Wes Matthews and Nic Batum and his opportunities on the court were limited. When you’re looking over your shoulder and trying not to make mistakes and putting pressure on (yourself) to make a shot, it’s difficult. I really give it to CJ and Allen, they were ready for this year and they were prepared for it, the opportunity was going to be there. But I think that a lot of players — and you know, you played — is that if the coach trusts me, I’m going to play better. Whether I trusted them or not their first two years, certainly their opportunity was there and I trusted them with the role that they were going to have.”
On his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive:
“Every year what I do is I go through the closet and knowing that I’m going to get some suits in the fall, I go through and weed out the older ones. There’s certain ones that I do kind of have a special place in my heart for them, but other than that, I just take some of the older suits and the Men’s Wearhouse has a great program with the suit drive to give away suits to people who can use them. I’m kind of a bigger guy so hopefully there’s some big guys out there who are able to take advantage of them.”