Grantland's Zach Lowe does his normally thorough expository exegetical job in breaking down the Portland Trail Blazers, who are at an interesting crossroads. Amidst his analysis, and quite cleverly in the footnotes, he tosses out his 3 favorite Blazers trades, one of which involves the Oklahoma City Thunder:
Aldridge to Oklahoma City for Serge Ibaka, Jeremy Lamb, and two future first-round picks. Wouldn't this be fun? Sure, it creates some tax issues for OKC in 2014-15 and beyond, but good luck dealing with Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Aldridge. Still: The Thunder may look at this as a major defensive downgrade, and as a needlessly complicated introduction of someone unwilling to play the third banana.
The Thunder get Aldridge, but they lose their defensive focal point, their much-needed bench player, AND it leverages their future by costing them first round picks. I say...that's an interesting package. For the Blazers.
Put aside the fact that Aldridge, who is a fine player and an All-Star, is not the 2nd coming of Shaq. He's just that - a very good, consistent, All-Star. We see him 3-4 times per year, and sometimes he's good against OKC and sometimes he's average. Also put aside the fact that it would be financially crippling to lose Ibaka's valuable contract and 3 rookie scale contracts. Put those things aside. Instead, ask yourselves this question - is the remaking of the Thunder in this regard the right direction for the team?
The direction the NBA is going these days is toward an accelerated, athletic, ball movement game that rewards hybrid players who can create multiple mismatches. The Thunder are still trying to figure out who they are as an offensive system, but there is no question that by applying the athleticism of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka, they possess a trio that no other team in the league can counter on a purely physical level.
If that is the direction the team is going, in what way does Aldridge make sense?