Update: The Spurs haven’t yet guaranteed Aldridge’s 2020-21 salary, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Rather, San Antonio moved up the guaranteed date to Jan. 1, which is nearly as good as guaranteeing it. It’s nearly impossible to see the Spurs waiving Aldridge during this season just so they can pay him $7 million not to play for them next season.
LaMarcus Aldridge was the second-oldest player voted an All-Star two seasons ago. Aldridge was the second-oldest player voted an All-Star last season.*
The Spurs expect the 34-year-old Aldridge to keep rolling not just this season, but also the following season.
Marc Stein of The New York Times:
Aldridge’s 2020-21 salary was just $7 million guaranteed. The Spurs didn’t have to guarantee the other $17 million until June 29.
Doing it this early is surprising and questionable. Why rush to commit so much money to someone for his age-35 season? No matter how dependably Aldridge has played into his early 30s, you just can’t count on players that old to sustain their production.
Still, it was likely always heading this way. San Antonio’s choice was paying Aldridge $24 million to stay or $7 million to go away. The Spurs lose the flexibility to make that call next summer, but they show faith in their top player. Aldridge ought to appreciate that. Maybe that even improves his play this season.
Perhaps, there’s also an implicit message in this move for DeMar DeRozan, who’s eligible for a contract extension with San Antonio.