Where do the Blazers go from here?

The Portland Trail Blazers’ championship window is shattered.

The Portland Trail Blazers’ championship window is shattered. At the start of the season, Portland was still considered one the best up-and-coming rosters in the NBA and many observers felt it was only a matter of time before the team began contending for championships.

It’s funny how a few trips to the doctor’s office can change everything. Maybe “funny” isn’t the right word.

Greg Oden is out for another season, but we’re used to this diagnosis. Now we’re being told Brandon Roy has no meniscus in either knee and will probably never be the same player again? Ouch, that one stung, Doc.

With Roy likely shut down for the rest of the year and Oden’s future looking uncertain as usual, two pillars of the Blazers’ foundation are showing cracks and looking very unstable. Fans are disheartened, and that’s understandable, but it’s not time to panic and it’s certainly not time to simply blow up this roster by trading away Roy.

The Blazers’ foundation may be damaged, but it’s still in place. It just needs to be shifted a bit.

Out of the ashes, LaMarcus Aldridge has elevated his game to another level and is garnering serious all-star considerations. He’s shown improved footwork, an array of post moves and better touch around the hoop. But that’s not all—Aldridge has changed the style of his play, showing a concerted effort to score more buckets inside the paint. Last season, it seemed a majority of Aldridge’s FG’s came from outside shots on the pick-and-pop play, but this year, it’s almost surprising to even see the play called, and that’s a good sign.

Make no mistake—Aldridge is the franchise player for Portland now. “L.A.” is posting career-highs in points (20.5 ppg), rebounds (8.8 rpg), steals (1.1 spg), blocks (1.3 bpg) and field-goal attempts (17.1 fga). He’s already recorded 18 double-doubles this season.

Just like head coach Nate McMillan, this team is competitive, stubborn and tough-minded. With solid performances from veterans Andre Miller and Marcus Camby, along with most-improved player candidate Wesley Mathews, the Blazers have ground their way to a 20-18 record and are currently in eighth place in the Western Conference.

That’s great and all—the Blazers will make the playoffs again—but is this team going to contend for an NBA title any time soon? I doubt it. Sure, they’ve overachieved, but they aren’t overachieving their way to a championship.

What Portland needs is a bonafide perimeter threat, someone who can get inside off the dribble, draw defenses and score points in bunches. The Blazers need an all-star level player to help relieve the defensive pressure surrounding Aldridge on a nightly basis and provide another option down the stretch of games. If Roy can’t be relied on to be “the guy” anymore, then GM Rich Cho needs to go out and find somebody else.

Trading Roy isn’t a realistic option. Would you trade for a busted-up player with a max-contract? Trading Oden isn’t a very smart move, either. What if Oden came back 100 percent healthy next season—after all, he’s only 22 years old—and then we’d really look like fools.

Still, with the trade deadline less than a month away, I’d be shocked if the Blazers didn’t make some sort of move. With expiring contracts from Miller, Camby and Joel Pryzbilla, plus a lot of attractive young talent like Nicholas Batum, the Blazers have plenty of assets to pull off a quality deal.

Rumored players coming back to Portland have included Philadelphia’s Andre Igoudala, New Jersey’s Devin Harris or Houston’s Aaron Brooks. All would be good options.

The bottom line is that Cho is under immense pressure to get something done. Rebuilding a foundation is hard work, but nothing gets done if you simply sit on your hands. ?