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Aldridge says he is 'Good to go'

Blazer forward aims for return Wednesday vs. Utah
by: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge signs autographs at Friday's Fan Fest.

LaMarcus Aldridge pronounced himself fit Friday, with the goal to return to action in next Wednesday's preseason finale at Utah.

And don't begin to suggest that Portland's veteran power forward won't be back at 100 percent for Portland's regular-season opener against Philadelphia Dec. 26 at the Rose Garden.

'I'll definitely be ready,' Aldridge said.

It was been a week since Aldridge underwent a medical procedure on his heart, the result of a condition called Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome.

It was the third time Aldridge has undergone the surgical procedure - including once late in his rookie season in April 2007, then again that summer. He said he was feeling fine and was surprised when doctors discovered 'abnormal rhythms' during a physical last week.

Aldridge indicated last Friday's procedure was precautionary. And while he conceded that 'it is a little more scary the third time,' it didn't faze him.

'I was overly comforted,' Aldridge said. 'That threw the doctor off. Usually people are kind of scared (at the prospect of the procedure). I was, 'Let's just do it; let's get it over with.'

'It's major if it's your heart, but how they do it is so minor, it's kind of crazy.'

Aldridge's plan is to return to non-contact drills Saturday and Sunday, go through a full practice Tuesday and be ready to play Wednesday against the Jazz.

'I have to come back slowly because of the incisions,' he said. 'My heart's fine. I'm just waiting for my body to heal.'

Aldridge said missing the first week of training camp has been frustrating, 'but I'd rather have it done at the first of the season than try to push it into training camp and miss part of the (regular) season. Now I'm good to go.'

The news that Brandon Roy's career is over at 27 is still sinking in. Aldridge (No. 2) and Roy (No. 6) were chosen by Portland in the first round of the 2006 draft and have been teammates since.

'It's still kind of surreal to me,' Aldridge said. 'I don't really believe it. We came here together and he has been there with me every step of the way. We went through ups and downs together. It was a big hit to me.

'He did what was best for his health and his family. I wish him well, but it's still kind of weird to not have him around, to not see him at his locker. It's going to take some time.'

Aldridge knows there will be additional leadership responsibilities with Roy retired.

'But I was trying to become more of a leader whether or not Brandon was coming back,' the 6-11, 250-pound Aldridge said. 'I'm going to try to be more of a vocal leader on the court, and in closing out games. That's where I have to get to for us to win.'

Aldridge said he focused on increasing strength and power during the extended offseason.

'And I focused a lot on isolations at the elbows,' he said. 'If teams double-team me, so I can make plays for others, or I can score consistently from that spot.'