As Tuesday night becomes Wednesday morning once the clock strikes midnight, NBA teams will be lining up, both by telephone and in person, to make their free agent pitches.
The San Antonio Spurs are expected to be a strong contender to land LaMarcus Aldridge, but while they would love to add the talented All-Star big man to the roster, Gregg Popovich won’t be around personally to do any late-night recruiting.
Tonight, an hour before midnight, the Spurs will begin calling free agents. Gregg Popovich, however, says he won’t join in.
“I’m not calling anyone at midnight,” he said. “I’ll be in bed. And if that’s the difference in someone coming or not coming, then I don’t want them.”
That’s Popovich, mixing gruff humor with the truth. That’s also the only sales pitch that can work with LaMarcus Aldridge.
The free-agent prize from Texas, after all, has other options that include more money and more glamour and less pressure.
Aldridge has to want exactly what Popovich has to offer.
The Spurs, more than any other franchise, have a program in place that’s bigger than any of their star players. Popovich has gotten superstars like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili to buy in selflessly over the years, and he isn’t about to change his ways to accommodate a new addition to the roster.
Aldridge is scheduled to meet with seven teams in total, with the Lakers and Rockets expected to be up first. The Spurs will get their chance, too, but not until Popovich has had a good night’s rest.