The San Antonio Spurs and power forward LaMarcus Aldridge have mutually agreed to part ways, with both sides agreeing the veteran would not return to the team, head coach Gregg Poppovich said after his team’s 115-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night in the squad’s first post-All-Star break contest.
“We’ve mutually agreed to work out some opportunities for him that’ll be elsewhere, so he won’t be with the team moving forward,” Pop said. “He’s been a great teammate, there was no problem there, we just think this is a win-win for both LaMarcus and for the club. So when an opportunity arises, that’ll be up to management and his agent.”
San Antonio has been actively shopping Aldridge to several teams and have a few potential trades that they believe could come to fruition as early as next week, which would help them to avoid having to negotiate a buyout of the 15-year veteran’s contract, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The March 25th trade deadline is rapidly approaching, however, and teams may very well prefer to simply wait until after the Spurs are forced into buying Aldridge out to try and sign the big man at a much lower price, and with no benefit to San Antonio. Privately, there are a significant amount of teams that are looking to go this route, sources told ESPN.
This is a different situation from those that saw Blake Griffin and DeMarcus Cousins leave the tanking Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets, respectively. The Spurs are currently seventh in the West and very much in the thick of the playoff race with Pop at the helm and DeMar DeRozan playing at a high level surrounded by a solid group of veterans and young guns.
It seems more than likely that the Spurs will end up in the Western Conference’s end of season playoff, though they are still offering decent +240 NBA odds to win the Southwest Division, which the Mavs are currently leading by a sliver.
Aldridge was dealing with hip and quad injuries that forced him to miss eight of San Antonio’s last 11 games heading into the break. The squad went 6-2 without the 35-year-old in that time and he managed just two points in 15 minutes in his final game for the Spurs.
There’s no doubt in my mind that a guy like Aldridge still chasing his first ring will have his game completely reinvigorated if he moves to a contender, because it can’t get much worse than the season he’s had to date.
In his last three games for the Spurs he came off the bench for the first time since his rookie season in Portland, and his 13.7 points and 25.9 minutes per game are the lowest for the seven-time All-Star since that freshman year in the NBA way back in 2006.
After nine seasons in Portland, Aldridge came to the Spurs in 2015 and continued to be a calm and constant presence in the frontcourt, using his patented mid-range and post-up game to contribute 19.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game over those 5+ years with the franchise.
Point guard Patty Mills, who played his first two seasons with Aldridge and the Blazers before linking up with the big man again in San Antonio in 2015, had only nice things to say about his longtime teammate.
“He’s obviously well-respected by this group particularly and every team he’s played for. As a teammate, you just wish the best for him,” Mills said.