Rumor: LaMarcus Aldridge more likely to leave Trail Blazers in free agency than people realize

23 Comments

LaMarcus Aldridge said he wants to finish his career with the Trail Blazers.

He also rejected Portland’s contract-extension offer before the season.

Though that move was mostly financially motivated, it will allow him to hear pitches from other teams this summer.

And he might listen.

Ramona Shelburne on ESPN LA (hat tip: Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation):

I think LaMarcus Aldridge is actually a lot more in play than people think.

How can you really improve that group up in Portland? I think Neil has done a great job up there, but it’s Portland. He’s never quite fit in, and they’ve made it really clear that Damian Lillard is the face of their franchise.

Lillard being the face of the franchise might not bother Aldridge. Aldridge reportedly wanted to be traded a couple years ago, and though he denied that, he admitted to being “extremely frustrated.” Then Lillard emerged as Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey built a strong roster, and Aldridge got much happier.

But that doesn’t mean Aldridge will definitely re-sign with Portland.

The Spurs and Mavericks have been linked to the native Texan, and if he expresses a sincere desire to explore the market, he’ll draw plenty of other suitors.

That said, the Trail Blazers will probably retain him.

1. They’re really good, and they’ll be stronger once Wesley Matthews gets healthy (assuming they also re-sign him).

2. They can offer more money than anyone else.

If Aldridge re-signs, his max contract projects to be worth about $109 million. If he leaves, about $81 million.

Aldridge – especially if he’s unsure about staying in Portland – should consider signing a one-year contract.

Max contracts are divided into three tiers based on player experience – 0-6 years, 7-9 years and 10+ years. Aldridge has played nine seasons, so he’d become eligible for the highest tier in the summer of 2016 – right when the new national TV contracts will drastically raise the salary cap.

Here’s a projection of Aldridge could earn on max contracts by:

  • Re-signing this summer (red)
  • Signing elsewhere this summer (black)
  • Signing a one-year deal with Portland this summer and then re-signing (brown)
  • Signing a one-year deal with Portland this summer and then signing elsewhere (gray)

image

Season Re-sign Sign elsewhere 1+Re-sign 1+Sign elsewhere
2015-16 $19,027,800 $19,027,800 $19,027,800 $19,027,800
2016-17 $20,454,885 $19,884,051 $29,642,715 $29,642,715
2017-18 $21,881,970 $20,740,302 $31,865,919 $30,976,637
2018-19 $23,309,055 $21,596,553 $34,089,122 $32,310,559
2019-20 $24,736,140 $36,312,326 $33,644,482
2020-21 $38,535,530
Total $109,409,850 $81,248,706 $189,473,412 $145,602,194
Average $21,881,970 $20,312,177 $31,578,902 $29,120,439

Of course, there’s be risk in waiting a year. Aldridge turns 30 this summer, and he might not draw a max contract in the summer of 2016. His jump-shooting style seems to age reasonably well, but if he loses a step defensively or on the glass, that diminishes his value.

That could be another reason to stay in Portland, where a strong supporting cast keeps him in a role where he’s proven to succeed.

Most factors point to Aldridge re-signing, but it’s definitely not a lock.

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

Getty Images
3 Comments

The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

Associated Press
1 Comment

David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

Getty Images
2 Comments

Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

1 Comment

Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.