The conversation at Blazers practice? Heart and soul

Portland await news on Aldridge's cardiac condition, and McMillan allows music in practice.

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

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TUALATIN, Ore. — Before Wednesday's training camp practice, a multitude of national outlets reported that Blazers forward Gerald Wallace was involved in trade rumors involving Portland, Orlando, and New Jersey. Magic center Dwight Howard was the centerpiece of the talks — although he would not have been going to the Blazers — but by mid-afternoon, those discussions had reportedly died.

Nevertheless, Portland coach Nate McMillan addressed his players beforehand to ensure that they were focused on on the task at hand, and not their future.

"I talked to the guys about that (trade rumors) today. There was a report about our guys being involved in trades, but you can't control that," McMillan said. "I told them that if they have a question, my door is open, and we'll let them know what's going on."

McMillan said that no players have asked about being traded, but he did warn against organizations making any rushed decisions. After all, with the free agency period starting just a bit more than two weeks before the season was set to begin, it's likely that scrambling teams can make a frenzied decision that ultimately backfires.

"Everything is just compressed here," McMillan said. "A lot of teams are trying to make a lot of things happen. I think it can make some mistakes here if you're not careful. As far as being out here in this free agency market, all the conversations about trade talk and some of the things that are going on. You have to be careful about how you do business. "

ALDRIDGE'S RETURN? STILL TBA

Last Saturday, Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge tweeted that he will be back Friday. Wednesday, McMillan said he wasn't so sure.

Last Friday, Aldridge underwent a procedure to treat his Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome, a disorder that causes an irregular heartbeat. As a result, he has yet to participate in training camp.

Aldridge.

Thursday, Aldridge will have a medical checkup to evaluate his condition, which may or may not result in him being given the green light to return to work.

McMillan, though certainly used to adjusting to injuries, notes that it is obviously far from ideal to go through training camp without his best player. That said, he feels Aldridge is someone who can get his rhythm back pretty quickly.

"He knows what we are doing, so it’s just a matter of, once he gets in, putting him back in his position,” McMillan said. “We’re not really adding anything new as far as the sets and the defense we’re playing. It’s just not having him out there, playing with the guys, that’s the only disruption. “It’s going to take some time, once he gets out and runs with the guys and runs with that first group. But he should be able to pick up things quickly.”

PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC

The Blazers' roster, as it stands, lists 18 people. But a few unexpected visitors made their way into the team's practice facility Wednesday.

First, there was Tupac. Then, the Notorioius B.I.G. Survivor soon followed, and then Rod Stewart made an appearance.

Yes, after years of denying lobbying players and coaches, McMillan finally succumbed and allowed the presence of music during pre-practice warmups and post-practice individual drills.

"It took three years preparing for that," McMillan said smiling. "But what sold me on it is that it gets guys going in the morning...Music makes you feel good, and after a while, you don't even hear it."

McMillan shuts it off once actual practice begins. Plus, he won't allow anything involving "four-letter words." And while Portland shooting guard Wesley Matthews could be seen bopping his head while running through shooing drills, McMillan pointed out to the media "a lot of you guys cannot dance."

Of course, not everyone is in favor of the new audio addition. Asked after practice whether he enjoyed the music, Blazers guard Nicolas Batum answered bluntly: "No, I don't like it."

Stay tuned for some Euro techno.