Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge can still team up to bring a championship back to Portland

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Lillard, Aldridge can still bring a championship back to Portland originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

LaMarcus Aldridge’s time with the San Antonio Spurs is done.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced Wednesday that the seven-time NBA All-Star and the team have agreed to mutually part ways and are working on a resolution to find his next NBA home.

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Trail Blazers fans have always wondered what could have happened if Aldridge and Portland never parted ways following the 2014-15 season. If you ask Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, they would have won a title in Rip City.  

“I was just like excited to be the point guard that got to play with him," Lillard said on Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles. "I was like if me and him going to play together, I’m going to keep getting better so I can match him. And we gonna win it. That’s what I thought.”

He continued, “If me and him would have stayed teammates, and I could get to the level that I am now, we could have for sure got one. And then maybe we don’t lose Batum, lose Wes and we got CJ [McCollum], Will Barton, Allen Crabbe. We had the team to do it, we just needed to stay together. And in San Antonio, he’s been to the Western Conference finals and I’ve been to the Western Conference Finals, but we both came up short.”

[RELATED: Jusuf Nurkic is liking LaMarcus Aldridge trade speculation on social media]

Portland reached the playoffs in each of the final two seasons Aldridge and Lillard played together, and it made it to the second round in 2013-14.

After spending his first nine seasons with the Blazers, Aldridge agreed to deal to join the Spurs in 2015. The 35-year-old is now in the final year of his contract worth $24 million this season.

While Aldridge is averaging just 13.7 points per game, the fewest amount of points scored since his rookie season, Portland is certainly to pop up as a potential suitor for Aldridge, who has teased the idea of retiring in Portland and reuniting with Lillard in recent years. 

“I keep telling him I’m going to come back and finish [in Portland],” Aldridge said in an interview with The Athletic. “That’s something him and I have talked about – playing together again.”

The only way Aldridge could make his way back to Portland is through the buyout market. A trade, at this point, is far too steep of an asking price for the Trail Blazers.

It’s not beyond the realms of possibility, but certainly the idea of Aldridge playing out his career in Portland is one that brings every Trail Blazers fan the warm fuzzies. And maybe, just maybe, if it happened, Lillard and Aldridge could finish what they started and bring a championship trophy back to Rip City for the first time since 77.