Sources: Aldridge tells Blazers he won’t be back

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers Writer

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PORTLAND — The writing is on the wall that we’ve seen the last of LaMarcus Aldridge in a Portland Trail Blazers uniform. Their trade of Nicolas Batum on Wednesday might not be the end of Portland’s roster overhaul.

A Western Conference executive with knowledge of the Aldridge pursuit has told The Columbian that the free-agent has already informed the Blazers that he will not return to the Northwest.

Free-agency is set to begin on July 1 but the Blazers have wasted no time in re-tooling their roster for life after Aldridge.

Another league executive told The Columbian on Wednesday that the trade of Batum looked like “a rebuilding move,” and league sources say that the Blazers are “not done” dealing.

Batum was traded for veteran swingman Gerald Henderson and 19-year old power forward Noah Vonleh-a former lottery pick in 2014.

The latest knowledge aligns with the growing belief that Aldridge will leave town, which was reported by ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard as a 99.9 percent certainty on Thursday morning, citing sources close to Aldridge.

The San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers are among the teams chasing the free-agent forward.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com reported that the Lakers were “moving up” Aldridge’s list of destinations.

Batum was Aldridge’s longest standing teammate, but it appears that the Blazers will have a fresh start come training camp.

Aldridge has played nine seasons with the Blazers, making the All-Star game in four of those five seasons.

He averaged a career-high of 23.4 points per game this past season while playing through a torn ligament in his left thumb for much of the season.

Sources have also said that the Batum trade could be a cap-saving move in order to pay swingman Wesley Matthews or to pursue Cleveland free-agent forward Kevin Love in the event Aldridge leaves.

Multiple outlets have connected the Blazers with the Philadelphia 76ers in a trade involving Portland’s No. 23 pick.

Since the Blazers traded their first round pick in 2016 to the Denver Nuggets for Arron Afflalo, the Blazers cannot officially execute any trade with the No. 23 pick until they make a selection.

They could very well be selecting a player for another team in that spot.

Aldridge had surgery earlier this offseason to repair the thumb.

The Blazers come into the draft with only the No. 23 pick but they already have been and appear to continue to be one of the day’s biggest movers and shakers.

The Blazers are scheduled to hold a press conference after the draft where President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey is scheduled to speak to the media.

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