It started last season according to Jabari Young of MySanAntonio.com, LaMarcus Aldridge wasn’t happy with how things were turning out with the Spurs. He wasn’t going to be the focus of the franchise, not then and not after future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan’s retirement. The honeymoon between the All-Star power forward and his new team might have been over almost before it began.
Last season, there were rumblings in NBA circles that Aldridge wanted to be traded before the All-Star break.
Those close to the situation suggest Aldridge may not be happy at the moment. The belief is the Spurs pitched him on becoming the center of their offense when they recruited him in 2015, and that hasn’t occurred.
Kawhi Leonard is becoming the face of the Spurs franchise and the center of their offense, plus Aldridge still has to deal with fame, reputation and impact of Tony Parker and the non-retirement of Manu Ginobili. The Spurs have always represented themselves as a team that doesn’t care who gets the glory/attention and if Aldridge isn’t happy playing out of the limelight, San Antonio may not be the best fit. Leonard out-polled Aldridge 782,339 votes to 268,003 in the 2016 NBA All-Star voting and Aldridge only received about half (498,131) of the votes he got playing in Portland the year before.
To make matters worse, Kevin Durant jumped ship in OKC to solidify the Warriors position as the dominant team in the Western Conference and making every other franchise, even the 67-win Spurs, mere pretenders to come out of the West. Reduced personal stats, no chance at being voted in as an All-Star and little chance at contending for an NBA title isn’t what the 30-year-old 23 point 10 rebound star Trail Blazers power forward foresaw a year ago.
Basketball Insiders Steve Kyle explains,
Aldridge is being pushed into the No. 2 role (and sometimes No. 3) depending on how the Spurs play.
That’s becoming a source of frustration, mainly because the Spurs are not going to be the championship contender Aldridge thought he was joining and he won’t be the focal-point guy who becomes an All-Star.
All this is beginning to fire up the rumor mill about a possible trade, but there is no hard evidence the Spurs have started down that path – yet.
It’s safe to say the Spurs are not remotely looking at moving Aldridge, but it seems equally safe to say that is not a long-term designation.
If and when the Spurs and Aldridge decide it’s time to part company, there will be no shortage of suitors. Pretty much every team that had cap space took a run at signing Aldridge as a free agent last summer and those same teams and more would try to land him again.
Aldridge is on a team friendly contract based on this past summer’s madness. He is owed $20.5 million this season, $21.4 million next year and has a player option (at 33-years-old) for $22.3 million in 2018-19. However, as every GM in the Association should be aware, if R.C. Buford wants your guy, he probably thinks he’s winning that trade and he probably is – buyer beware.