Now, Aldridge might actually be done with San Antonio.
Spurs president-coach Gregg Popovich said the team and Aldridge – who’s in the final year of his contract – have mutually agreed to part ways.
Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press:
Gregg Popovich on LaMarcus Aldridge: pic.twitter.com/OQN0U3jVNV
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) March 11, 2021
Aldridge, 35, has declined significantly since he was a near-perennial All-Star. He has especially lost a step defensively, and his rebounding has slipped. The Spurs recently won five of six not completely coincidentally while Aldridge was out with a hip injury.
But he’s still a talented interior scorer who has developed into a solid 3-point shooter. He could help plenty of teams.
Aldridge’s $24 million salary will complicate a trade. Teams will have difficulty matching Aldridge’s salary without including players more valuable than him.
With Portland, Rodney Hood ($10,047,450 salary in the final guaranteed season of his contract) would be a logical piece in an Aldridge trade. But a second player who’d make salaries match – Derrick Jones Jr., Robert Covington or Nurkic – is more valuable than Aldridge. So, the Spurs would have to add more. It gets complex in a hurry.
Constructing an Aldridge trade with any team would include similar obstacles.
If kept through the trade deadline, Aldridge would still be owed $8,219,178 the rest of the season.* San Antonio has worked out a buyout with an expensive aging center before, though.
*More than a year ago, the Spurs guaranteed the final $17 million of Aldridge’s $24 million 202-21 salary several months before necessary. The original deadline was last offseason. San Antonio probably would have still guaranteed Aldridge’s contract last offseason rather than waiving him and taking a $7 million cap hit before the season. But considering how quickly the situation has unraveled, it’s worth at least reexamining that decision.
The Spurs (18-14) are winning while giving significant roles to youngsters Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker, Jacob Poeltl, Devin Vassell and Derrick White. Poeltl is already outplaying Aldridge at center. Drew Eubanks and Luka Samanic could get bigger roles with Aldridge gone.
Aldridge isn’t San Antonio’s only veteran on an expiring contract. DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay are also approaching inflection points. Will the Spurs keep those players to bolster the team’s present? Or will Aldridge’s impending exit hasten a larger changing of the guard?
San Antonio delayed Aldridge’s departure a few years and experienced significant success as a result. But the situation has now come to a head.