Where is LaMarcus Aldridge leaning in free agency?
Depends on who you ask.
Around the Lakers, there is a sense of confidence they are the front runners. But that is not what you hear everywhere around the league — the Spurs are still right in the mix. Maybe they are even the front runners. And the Spurs are bringing out the big guns for their meeting with Aldridge, reports Marc Spears at Yahoo Sports.
Tim Duncan will join Tony Parker and Gregg Popovich as part of the San Antonio Spurs’ contingent when they meet with Portland Trail Blazers free agent LaMarcus Aldridge on Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, a source told Yahoo Sports….
The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors and Phoenix Suns are among Aldridge’s suitors, but a source close to the situation said the Spurs are currently the frontrunner.
If you take one thing away from those paragraphs it should be this: Tim Duncan is coming back next season. Why else is he meeting with Aldridge?
We know the order of Aldridge’s meetings, thanks to David Aldridge of TNT and NBA.com.
As for who are the favorites? Only Aldridge knows.
If it is going to be San Antonio, you will see the Spurs making moves and doing an intricate financial dance to clear out cap space — specifically, expect to see either Boris Diaw or Tiago Splitter moved. If that happens, you can start to assume the Spurs are on to something.
Otherwise, maybe it is the Lakers. Or his hometown Mavericks. Or Portland. Or….
Aldridge is the best free agent on the market likely to be on the move. It’s going to be fascinating to watch.
LaMarcus Aldridge is expected to leave Portland to pursue other opportunities as an unrestricted free agent this summer, with the Spurs being near the top of his list.
The Lakers are there, too, and a recent report suggests that L.A. may in fact be the frontrunner to retain Aldridge’s services.
From Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times:
Heard that LaMarcus Aldridge was leaning toward Lakers, a sign that their brand is not only back but never went away despite appearances.
Make no mistake — Aldridge will be looking around at plenty of options, and is open to listening to pitches from any team that has the financial ability to provide him with long-term security as part of a winning situation.
But Los Angeles is appealing, for a variety of reasons. D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson should have the backcourt locked down for the foreseeable future, Kobe Bryant has at least one more season left, and Julius Randle is a promising prospect who should be fully ready to go after suffering an injury at the very beginning of last season.
Add in the fact that other free agents — like DeAndre Jordan, for example — may be willing to sign on as soon as another All-Star talent does the same, and it’s easy to see why the Lakers, when offering max money, could be an extremely desirable destination.
LaMarcus Aldridge is done playing hoops in Portland. Well, except as a heartily-booed member of a road team next season, but he’s done as a Blazer.
He might land in San Antonio — that’s his preference, but it requires a delicate financial dance by the Spurs to make it happen (if you see Boris Diaw get traded, the Spurs are likely on to something). The Lakers are reportedly climbing his list, and they will get a meeting. So will the Dallas Mavericks — Aldridge grew up in Dallas, and some Cowboys players are going to help try to recruit him.
And don’t forget about Toronto… wait, the Raptors? Apparently they are in the mix as well.
There may be a little logic to this. Toronto does have the cap space to offer a max deal. They have some quality players on the roster: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and others. They are in the East, so it’s an easier path to the Finals (save for that LeBron James guy).
But Aldridge is going to not go to contend with the Spurs, not go home to Dallas, not become the face of the Lakers brand, and instead choose to go to Toronto? With all due respect to one of the NBA’s best (and certainly most underrated) fan bases, I just can’t see it. Not when he has better options.