LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the game’s most skilled power forwards, able to dominate from the left block or knock down fadeaways in the midrange.
Just don’t ask him to play center.
Which is what the Knicks were going to do — they had just drafted Kristaps Porzingis and he is the future at the four spot.
That is why Aldridge cancelled his free agent meeting with the Knicks this summer, he told Frank Isola from the New York Daily News, out in Las Vegas where Aldridge is part of the USA Basketball mini-camp.
“They were saying they wanted me to be more of a center to let their guy develop and I just wasn’t looking to be that,” Aldridge said. “So I was looking to play power forward, and they weren’t really interested…
“Melo and I talked a little bit over text and we have mutual friends that passed messages along. I was interested,” Aldridge said. “I talked to other guys to see if they were interested in going there too. I was interested but when they say they want me to play a position that I don’t want to play, I get it.”
Aldridge ultimately chose the Spurs, and most likely would have done the same after meeting with the Knicks regardless.
I can see the comments now about how this is the Knicks being the Knicks and Phil Jackson screwing up again.
Except he didn’t — this is exactly the right play.
Aldridge, at 30 years old, is a guy looking for a win-now situation, and the Knicks are not that. They should not try to be that — their years of floundering around have been in large part due to quick fix after quick fix trying to make the playoffs rather than following a long-term plan. Aldridge would only have been another in those line of quick-fixes. With him, the Knicks make the playoffs as a middle-of-the-pack team (but no real threat to the Cavaliers) but don’t build for the future. The Knicks need to play Porzingis at the four and the five (playing Carmelo Anthony at the four for stretches as well) and while that learning curve could be painful at times they need to suffer through it.
We can debate whether Jackson is up to the task, or if his triangle system can thrive in a modern NBA, I have my doubts. But at least someone in the organization is focused on the big picture right now. That has not been the case consistently for far too long.
Besides, the pitch from Jackson and coach Derek Fisher impressed DeAndre Jordan, who at the same event told Marc Berman of the post he strongly considered the Knicks.
“I had a great meeting and great presentation,’’ Jordan said after Tuesday’s US Olympic Team mini-camp. “Phil Jackson speaks for himself. Fish [Derek Fisher] did a great job. The whole team had a plan with the organization, a plan for me that was cool. I just decided to stay with the Clippers, but it was great.
“The Knicks were definitely a team I was considering.’’
Maybe Knicks fans should be happy Jordan didn’t first choose them. But at least the pitch — to a true center (they eventually landed another one in Robin Lopez) — was on point.