Portland had already saw a three-time All-Star forced to retire at the age of 27 and released the first overall pick just five years ago because of chronic knee problems, now its franchise cornerstone is out for the year.
The loss of its leading scorer and rebounder is just the latest misfortune for Portland suffering through one of its most turbulent seasons in franchise history.
Just months after owner Paul Allen nearly derailed the entire year for the NBA, nearly everything has gone for the Trail Blazers.
Without any leadership in its front office, a new coach and dramatically overhauled roster, Portland has still remained in playoff contention, but without Aldridge in the lineup, extending the season into the playoffs is highly unlikely.
With just two games remaining at the Rose Garden, including tonight’s match-up with the defending champion Mavericks, the latest playoff odds have the Trail Blazers with just a 0.50 percent chance of qualifying for post season play.
A loss to Dallas tonight ends any playoff hopes for Portland.
Take a look at what happened during the last five months in Rip City:
- Dec. 10, 2011– Three time All-Star guard Brandon Roy is forced to retire after just five seasons due to chronic knee troubles.
- Dec. 10, 2011– The team announces center Greg Oden, the first overall pick of the 2007 NBA Draft, suffered another set back after undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee. Oden just agreed to a one-year $8.8 million extension just six moths prior to the announcement.
- Dec. 15, 2011– After signing a five-year $82 million contract, the Trail Blazers are forced to use their one-time amnesty to buy out Roy.
- Dec. 26, 2011– Portland opens the year with a 107-103 victory over the 76ers as Aldridge and small forward Gerald Wallace combine for 46 points.
- Feb. 9, 2012- Aldridge is selected to 2012 NBA All-Star game.
- Feb. 17, 2012– In his first season with the Trail Blazers, point guard Raymond Felton declares coach Nate McMillan has “No confidence in him.”
- March 14, 2012– In their first game since an embarrassing 92-75 loss to Indiana, the Trail Blazers are blown out by 42 points in Madison Square Garden.
- March 15, 2012– The Trail Blazers send Wallace to New Jersey for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams and a protected first round draft pick in 2012.
- March 15, 2012– Center Marcus Camby is dealt to Houston for Hasheem Thabeet and Jonny Flynn, two top-5 picks from the 2009 draft. Portland is the third destination for each player in less than three years.
- March 15, 2012– Portland waves Oden to complete two deals at the trade deadline.
- March 15, 2012– As part of its massive mid-season overhaul, the Trail Blazers fired McMillan and promoted assistant Kaleb Canales to interim coach. All of the moves were made by Chad Buchanan, the acting general manager since the firing of Rich Cho, less than a year after Cho took the position.
- March 16, 2012– Reports surfaced about guards Felton and Jamal Crawford turned the team against coach McMillan.
- March 20 through April 4 2012– The Trail Blazers alternate loses and wins for 10 consecutive games
- March 21, 2012– Portland releases Okur, just six days after trading for him, to clear a roster spot for J.J. Hickson, a free agent after being bought out by Sacramento.
- March 30, 2012– Allen denies reports he is considering selling the team.
- April 12, 2012- Sitting three games below .500 and out of the Western Conference playoff race, the team announces Aldridge will undergo season-ending hip surgery and hopes to fully recover for the start of training camp next year.
Even with so much turmoil, the Trail Blazers are just 4.5 games behind Denver for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Portland (28-31) hasn’t finished with a sub-.500 record in five years and insists it isn’t rebuilding, but reloading its team.
Eighteen different players have suited up for the Trail Blazers this season through 59 games, the same amount the team had in a full 82 game slate a year ago.
The team has a solid foundation moving forward, with Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, a likely high lottery pick from New Jersey, their own first round draft selection in a deep draft and just $48.7 million committed for next season.
The Trail Blazers can add talent through the draft and make a play for free agents such as Steve Nash, Deron Williams or Roy Hibbert to finally bring home the Larry O’Brien trophy, the piece of hardware that has eluded the team since 1977.
There is plenty of talent in Portland, all the franchise needs is some continuity.