Posted Oct 23 2009 7:06PM
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- With forward LaMarcus Aldridge's contract extension, the Portland Trail Blazers solidified the core of their team for the next five years.
During the summer, the Blazers signed guard Brandon Roy to a five-year extension. On Thursday, they did the same with Aldridge.
Both players were brought in by the Blazers through draft-day trades in 2006, as Portland distanced itself from the so-called "Jail Blazers" era.
With the Oct. 31 deadline looming, the Blazers needed to strike a deal with Aldridge or he would have become a restricted free agent next summer.
Although the negotiations at some times appeared to lag, Aldridge maintained it was the end result that mattered. He signed a deal that with incentives will pay him up to $70 million.
"Whether it was during the summer or now, I feel blessed," he said.
Aldridge joked that he called his mom to tell her about the deal and she didn't believe him. Georgia Aldridge was on her way to Portland on Friday to personally thank general manager Kevin Pritchard and the Blazers, Aldridge said.
"From day one I've always felt loved here -- so I'm glad that it's done," Aldridge said.
The second overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Texas, Aldridge was acquired by the Blazers from the Chicago Bulls. He has since averaged 15.4 points and 6.8 rebounds and has started in 157 games.
The 6-foot-11 Dallas native averaged 18.1 points and 7.5 rebounds last season when the young Blazers won 54 games and went to the playoffs for the first time since 2003.
Portland fell in six games to the Houston Rockets in the first round, but Aldridge started in all six and averaged 19.5 points and 7.5 rebounds.
"I would tell you this -- he's exceeded so far above and beyond what we expected three years ago," Pritchard said.
Roy was among those who attended a press conference on Friday announcing Aldridge's deal. Like many of the onlookers gathered, he sported a red T-shirt that read "We Love [our] LA."
Roy, a two-time All-Star, earlier signed a five-year extension worth some $80 million. He led the Blazers last season with 22.6 points and 5.1 assists per game.
Earlier this month, the Blazers exercised options on center Greg Oden, forwards Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernandez and guard Jerryd Bayless.
The team exercised the team's fourth-year option on Oden, and their three-year options on the others. That will keep them under contract through next season.
Oden was the No. 1 overall draft pick and Fernandez was acquired via trade in the 2007 draft. Batum and Bayless were acquired via trades in the 2008 draft.
The Trail Blazers on Thursday also waived Ime Udoka and Jerron Collins, bringing their roster to 15. Portland opens the season Tuesday against the Rockets at the Rose Garden.
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