Tag: LaMarcus Aldridge

Portland Trail Blazers v New Jersey Nets

How a Spurs assistant forced his way onto LaMarcus Aldridge’s plane and persuaded him to sign


For a while, it seemed the Clippers were holding DeAndre Jordan hostage until he spurned the Mavericks and re-signed with Los Angeles.

Turns out, everything was pretty relaxed at Jordan’s house.

The real dramatic meeting between a free agent and pushy team rep involved LaMarcus Aldridge.

Aldridge met with teams in Los Angeles, and then he touched base with Ime Udoka, a Spurs assistant and former teammate of Aldridge.

Aldridge, in a Q&A with Sam Amick of USA Today:


Q: Did I hear it right that he flew back to Dallas with you after your LA meetings were over?

A: “It (the meeting process) was done. I was down to two teams, Phoenix and the Spurs. I thought (Udoka) was staying in San Antonio for the summer, so I was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a jet going to Dallas. You could get a flight from Dallas to San Antonio (to head home).’ So he was like, ‘Cool.’ So he gets on the jet, and I’m like, ‘We’re leaving. You should buy your flight (to San Antonio from Dallas) on the plane. Go buy your flight.’ He was like, ‘I ain’t buying no flight.’ I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He’s like, ‘I live here (in Los Angeles) right now. I’m flying just to answer any questions that you have.’ I was like, ‘Man, you’re crazy.’ I said, ‘Get off the plane.’ He said, ‘No, I’m going to answer any question that you have.’ So I’m like, ‘You don’t have to do this. Don’t do this.’ He’s like, ‘Nah, I’m not getting off.’

“So we rode – and I had my kids with me and my mom – so they sat in the front of the plane and him and I went to the back of the plane and talked the whole flight. It was just conversation, about the system, about me. It wasn’t really a lot of questions. It was just him telling me how I’m going to fit in. Everybody was making this big fuss about how I’m not going to be able to take shots anymore, or be the scorer that I am, and he was just telling me, ‘We need a guy to score down there. Tim (Duncan) is older, and we need a guy to command a double team down there.’ So I was like, ‘Maybe I’m not a Spur, because I’ve been averaging 23 (points per game) for the last three to four years, and maybe I don’t fit into y’all’s system of let’s all average 17 (points per game).’ And he was like, ‘No, we’re not trying to change who you are and make you average 16 or 17. We want you to be you, because you’re going to help us be better and vice versa.’ He kind of reaffirmed that they didn’t want to change me, and that who I am is ok.”

Aldridge obviously had a preexisting respect for Udoka. Otherwise, that could have come across as more intrusive than helpful.

Likewise, Aldridge clearly had a preexisting respect for the Spurs. He’d been linked to them long before free agency and any meetings.

So, I think he would have chosen San Antonio regardless.

But the Suns made a compelling pitch, and it’s a darn good thing for the Spurs Udoka made this final push — just in case.

Kawhi Leonard: “I want to be an all-star and MVP of the regular season”

Los Angeles Clippers v San Antonio Spurs - Game Three

The traditional arc for an NBA player is for them to chase numbers and try to get paid early in their career, then near the end they start making sacrifices for a team in hopes of getting a ring.

Kawhi Leonard has flipped that arc. From the beginning of his career he was on a Spurs team that was about sacrifice — Tim Duncan led the way, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili bought in fully. Four seasons in Leonard has a ring and a Finals MVP.

Now he may be looking to get some personal accolades, to go along with his winning. Look at what he told David Zink of Press Enterprise (hat tip Eye on Basketball)

“Winning just rubs off on you, once you see Manu (Ginobili), Tony (Parker) and Tim (Duncan) wanting to win every game.”

Now that’s he’s reached a new plateau professionally, Leonard says he’s ready to make another big leap.

“I want to be an (NBA) all-star and MVP of the regular season,” said Leonard. “I’m trying to be one of the greatest players so whatever level that consists of is where I want to take my game.”

The Spurs want him to be those things. They are paying him become the franchise face and cornerstone after Tim Duncan retires, or at least to share that with LaMarcus Aldridge for a while.

Eventually, that means Leonard taking on more of the scoring load — he averaged 16.5 points per game last season, and with the added depth on the roster that may not jump much in the short-term. But if he’s going to get in the regular season MVP consideration, he’s going to have to be closer to 20 points per game and set a tone on offense.

Leonard may do all that, but he’s not going to give up team play to do it.

Report: LaMarcus Aldridge changes agencies, now repped by Excel Sports Management

LaMarcus Aldridge
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Fresh off a four-year, $84 million deal with the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge has switched representation. He was the biggest free agent of the summer, and the most high-profile player to change teams. He’s long been a client of Arn Tellem, the influential agent with Wasserman Media Group. But Eurobasket.com’s David Pick reports that Aldridge will now be represented by Excel Sports Management, whose roster features Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Tyson Chandler:

Back in June, Tellem — whose client list includes Anthony Davis, Al Horford, both Gasol brothers and Brook Lopez — announced he was leaving Wasserman, and the agent world, to take a job with the Pistons on the business side. Aldridge’s defection is the first sign of a ripple effect created by Tellem’s departure. He is an enormously influential agent with deep ties to a lot of players. Now that he’s out of the game, don’t be surprised if more of his clients jump ship from Wasserman over the next year.

Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey chose chance of greatness over safer route to being merely good

Nerlens Noel, LaMarcus Aldridge

At face value, the Trail Blazers’ and 76ers’ offseasons took completely different approaches to rebuilding this offseason.

The Blazers traded for Noah Vonleh, Gerald Henderson, Mason Plumlee and Maurice Harkless. They signed Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis. They also signed Enes Kanter to an offer sheet, though the Thunder matched.

Philadelphia, on the other hand, highlighted free agency by… signing Pierre Jackson and Scotty Wilbekin, two players without NBA experience. Sure, the 76ers also traded for Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry. But Thompson and Landry were the tax necessary to require positive assets, and Philadelphia already flipped Thompson. Even Stauskas, a nice piece, was an afterthought relative to the draft considerations conveyed by the Kings.

Portland acquired five Stauskases – recent first-round picks still looking to find their place in the NBA.

But, as Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey tells it, his team has a similar philosophy to the 76ers. Portland is just taking a different route.

Michael Lee of The Washington Post:

Once Aldridge decided to leave, the Blazers didn’t waste their time trying to chase Matthews (who signed a four-year, $70 million deal with Dallas), Lopez (who took a four-year, $52 million deal with New York) or even reserve Arron Afflalo (who left for a two-year, $16 million deal with New York).

Olshey didn’t feel the need to keep together the same core while simply trying to replace a four-time all-star because, “absent LaMarcus Aldridge, that group was not going to be good enough,” he said. “We judge ourselves by high standards and if we can’t compete at the highest levels, then we had to go in a different direction.”

76ers general manager Sam Hinkie has made clear his lengthy and deep rebuild is designed to culminate in championship contention. There are simpler paths to getting good, and Hinkie clearly isn’t taking those. (Matt Moore of CBSSports.com wrote an excellent article on the difference.)

Being great usually requires a superstar. Getting a superstar usually requires a high first-round pick. A high first-round pick usually requires a terrible record.

There is logic behind Philadelphia’s unprecedented multi-year commitment to tanking.

Olshey definitely indicates he has a similar championship-or-bust attitude, and he concluded retaining Wesley Matthews, Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo and Nicolas Batum after LaMarcus Aldridge joined the Spurs would have taken the Trail Blazers further from a title. They might have been better in the short-term, but those highly paid veterans would have limited Portland’s potential to grow into a great team.

That’s a logical assessment, similar to the one Hinkie made with the Jrue Holiday-led roster he inherited.

At this point, Olshey took a different route than Hinkie.

The Trail Blazers paid a relatively small price for its young veterans, and I like the moves. I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of Vonleh, Plumlee, Harkless, Aminu and Davis becomes capable of playing a major role on a title contender. It’s a luxury to bet on so many intriguing players.

But the moves come with a cost. Those players are already decent, and they should make Portland better than Philadelphia this season. That means the Trail Blazers effectively moved down in the draft. Maybe the value of these additions offsets that, but Philadelphia has done little to jeopardize its draft position.

Perhaps, Olshey didn’t have a choice. Damian Lillard might have dictated Portland couldn’t fully tank. Just how bad could a team with Lillard really be? The 76ers don’t have anyone near his caliber, so declining to become good now is an easier choice.

Maybe Olshey and Hinkie would have acted differently if they were in the other’s situation. Circumstances matter.

But bottom line: The Trail Blazers and 76ers have the same mindset. They want to be great. They’re not as concerned with being good before that’s possible.

Stephen Curry: Real goal for Warriors is multiple rings

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s been a non-stop summer in the Curry household.

Stephen Curry played basketball deeper into the summer than he ever has before, to the middle of June. Right after that his second daughter was born, complete with the late-night crying and round-the-clock effort needed nurturing a new life. He was in Las Vegas for Team USA mini-camp, then showed up to win a surfboard at the Nickelodeon Teen Choice Awards. His summer has been filled with increased demands on his time, from sponsor events to golfing with president Barack Obama.

Has he actually gotten any downtime to rest this summer?

“A little bit,” Curry said Wednesday to NBC Sports, in an event with Degree antiperspirants (which involved deeply in motion analysis and the study of human movement movement, such as Curry golfing) at the TPC Harding Park Golf Club outside San Francisco. “We’ve been moving around a lot this year, from place to place. Obviously there’s a lot of opportunity to celebrate what a great season it was, and obviously the new addition to our family. A lot has changed.

“But in the offseason I get out and play a little bit of golf, I stay moving that way, and then obviously you have to prepare for next season too and I’m already in that mindset. So it’s been a pretty crazy summer celebrating good things, great things, but there’s also been a good amount of time to reflect on how special it was.”

After the Spurs won their most recent title, coach Gregg Popovich was concerned about a drop-off in focus — he said it’s human nature to take a deep breath after winning a title, and that can be a setback the next season.

Curry is not worried about the Warriors keeping their edge.

“That’s going to be easy,” Curry said of the Warriors not taking that breath. “We’re all competitors, we’re all proud of what we did last season, but once you enter a new year, we’ll get our rings on opening night, and that’s the end of the celebrating of what happened and you look forward to the next journey, the next goal, which is to win another one.

“I’m hopefully going to lead that charge, and we have such a great core of guys that are young and hungry and want to relive that intoxicating feeling of winning a championship. You look at the history of the league, you understand how hard it is to win one, but the challenge of winning multiple is something that I’m happy to be gunning for now, that I’ve got one under my belt. But that’s the mission.”

The Warriors got that first title with a modern-NBA style offense that perfectly suits Curry — up tempo, a lot of three-point shots (Curry set the single-season record for makes from three), and going small with versatile players who can defend well plus create challenging matchups. Golden State’s offense is a counter to the Tom Thibodeau-style defenses that were the norm in the NBA, which itself was a counter to shut down isolation basketball teams. The end result is Golden State (and the Spurs, Hawks and a few others) play a fun-to-watch style with ball movement and fearless shooters on offense — fans loved it and watched the Finals at the highest levels since the Jordan era.

The Warriors are not changing what works.

“Who we are is who we are, we’ve just got to be better at it, more consistent at it,” Curry said.

But do they recognize what they are doing helping change the NBA, taking what Mike D’Antoni started in Phoenix with Steve Nash and evolving it into a system that can win a ring?

“It’s playing good basketball but it’s playing our way and not really getting caught up in defining it,” Curry said. “We have our strengths with our team and versatility is what we rely on — guys playing multiple positions — and just being gamers and competitors. We obviously shoot a lot of jumpers and we play fast, but we also play defense at a high level and that’s why we’re world champs right now. We’ve just got to embrace that style of play and be more consistent and be better at it — we’re going to get everybody’s best shot this year, even more than we did last year, but we’ll be ready for it.”

They will get that shot from some loaded teams — the Spurs added LaMarcus Aldridge, the Clippers added depth, the Rockets added Ty Lawson, and the Thunder will (hopefully) have a healthy Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. The top of the West is a gauntlet.

But the Warriors have the rings — they are the team to beat. And Curry is ready to defend it.