Sports

Blazers embrace new focal point in Aldridge

PORTLAND – LaMarcus Aldridge is getting a fresh start with his old team. No, Aldridge never left the Trail Blazers, but this season is decidedly different for the All-Star.

“New pieces, new players, new locker room, new coach,” he said. “Everything’s new.”

Of course, only time will tell whether that’s a good thing or not.

The Blazers finished last season 28-38 and out of the playoffs for the first time in four years. They dismissed head coach Nate McMillan and let go of some of their more veteran players, choosing to build around Aldridge and swingman Nicolas Batum.

Aldridge, 27, is starting his seventh season with the Blazers. He’s averaging 17.8 points and 7.5 rebounds for his career, but last season he averaged 21.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists while shooting a career-high 51.2 percent. And he made his first All-Star team.

Parallels could be drawn between this season and Aldridge’s rookie year in 2006, when the team was trying to crawl out of the Jail Blazers era when it was known for its off-court trouble. But the 6-foot-11 power forward says there’s a difference this season.

“My first time, it was much more dramatic. It was a team that was trying to change its image. It was a team that had won 21 games in the regular season,” Aldridge said.

Much of the cast that supported Aldridge in past seasons is gone. Blazers starters Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby were traded away. Brandon Roy retired, but has come back this season with Minnesota. Center Joel Przybilla signed as a free agent with the Milwaukee Bucks.



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