NEW YORK — LaMarcus Aldridge was an All-Star starter this year, but while he was as deserving as many of his Western Conference teammates, the health of Kevin Durant (and an injury that prevented Anthony Davis from playing) were really the reasons behind Steve Kerr’s decision.
“It was basically because Kevin — I didn’t realize Kevin was injured and had some concerns about his minutes,” Kerr said. “So we wanted to keep Kevin’s minutes down. I just felt like LaMarcus has had such a great year, phenomenal season, and he deserved a start. He earned it. So I just felt like he was the right choice.”
It was a fine choice, but the fact that it took a series of special circumstances in order for it to happen highlights Aldridge’s somewhat under-the-radar quality. Playing in Portland doesn’t help, thanks to the combination of a smaller market and 10:30 p.m. ET tip times that prevent the more general media masses in the large East Coast markets from being able to take notice.
But Aldridge is a legitimate All-Star talent, and one that will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Still, he was largely ignored by his fellow players in terms of receiving recruitment pitches of where he should play next season.
Aldridge smiled when the grind of, ‘Are you coming to New York?’ queries was mentioned. “You know it is coming when you come here, but really, it wasn’t too bad,” Aldridge told Sporting News. “I didn’t get hit with it too much. It was off and on, but it wasn’t too bad and I’m used to it by now. I am not in free agency so there isn’t much to say.”
Aldridge also said he was not really recruited all that much by players employed by teams with cap space this summer — and yes, that includes Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony. “Maybe I’m not good enough,” Aldridge said with a smile. …
“It’s probably being paranoid, I think just about everyone expects him to stay (with the Blazers), but they’re very, very scared to lose him,” one league executive told Sporting News. “They’ve been reluctant to do anything with the roster as it stands because they want to stay in position to bring him back. For smaller markets, you’re always afraid of losing the stars you drafted and groomed.”
The key part, there, is that it’s widely expected that Aldridge simply re-ups on a max deal to stay where he is.
If long-term financial security is what he’s after, the Blazers can offer him one more guaranteed year of salary than anyone else, and he’s currently in a winning situation with a fellow All-Star in Damian Lillard that should keep Portland competing for years to come.
That more than anything else is why the recruitment pitches were essentially non-existent.