TUALATIN, Ore. — Monday night, the Blazers made their preseason debut. Wednesday night, the Blazers will make their preseason debut.
Missing from Monday’s 20-point win over Utah was Portland power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who was recovering from a minor procedure to treat a heart condition. But Blazers coach Nate McMillan said his leading scorer from last season is expected to be in the starting lineup vs. the Jazz Wednesday in Salt lake City.
“LA looked good. Everything went well,” McMillan said. “He went through the whole practice, he’ll travel with us, and we’re looking for him to play.”
Aldridge said he had a strenuous offseason in which he maintained a strong fitness level , but has lost some of his stamina being sidelined. He added this priorities against the Jazz Wednesday are to “find a rhythm, get my wind right, and work on my chemistry and conditioning getting up and down the court.”
McMillan did not say whether there would be a restriction on Aldridge’s minutes.
JOHNSON BEATS OUT BARRON
The Blazers had 16 players on their roster Wednesday morning, and 14 players under guaranteed contracts — which meant two guys were battling for that 15th and final spot: Chris Johnson and Earl Barron. Neither big man had a fully-guaranteed contract, but it appears as though Johnson will fill that final spot as Portland waived Barron Wednesday afternoon.
This shouldn’t have come as a major surprise.
Clue No. 1 was that Johnson, 26, played a team-high 27 minutes Monday to Barron’s zero. Plus, he capitalized on his court time, scoring eight points and pulling down six rebounds. McMillan wouldn’t officially comment on whether Johnson was winning the battle, saying only that “he did some good things.”
Pressed on this issue on the matter, McMillan repeated “he did some good things.”
Much of the discussion over the past few days has revolved around whether players have enough time to prepare for the regular season given the compact schedule. Blazers point guard Raymond Felton said he would have liked to have had a few more games, while Nicolas Batum said one or two more wouldn’t hurt.
McMillan, however, noted, that when it comes to preseason — no one ever seems to be content.
“When we have eight games, people say it’s too much, when it’s two games, they say we don’t have enough,” McMillan said. “We have to play it and try to get our work in.”