Aldridge’s role has been diminished as Gregg Popovich and the Spurs look to give more minutes to their younger players and build for the future. The seven-time All-Star is averaging 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21 games this season, but is also just one year removed from averaging 18.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 blocks.
Aldridge’s game has also evolved in the last couple years. He has always been a terrific midrange guy, but has also shown a greater willingness to shoot the 3-ball over the course of the last two seasons.
The 35-year-old could be highly coveted as a capable frontcourt scorer who can rebound and stretch the floor. He is also on an expiring contract, which will surely appeal to a number of contending teams. However, Aldridge’s age and salary might prevent San Antonio from getting a big return.
Here are three trade packages the Spurs could pursue in exchange for LaMarcus Aldridge.
3. LMA to South Beach
Spurs receive: Kelly Olynyk, Andre Iguodala,
Heat receive: LaMarcus Aldridge
The Heat might prefer to acquire a bona fide star ahead of the deadline. They could probably use a more established playmaker in the backcourt. Kyle Lowry, anyone?
Having said that, Aldridge would be an intriguing target for Miami.
As previously mentioned, Aldridge can space the floor as a stretch big in addition to being a guy who can face up on the low block and still finish with an assortment of jump hooks. He is a more polished scorer and rebounder than Kelly Olynyk, and every bit as capable defensively when he can act as a help defender and rotate to block shots.
It could be worth it for the Heat to go after Aldridge should they miss on someone like Lowry. Miami started to build momentum ahead of the All-Star break thanks in part to better health. Perhaps Aldridge would be energized headed to the reigning Eastern Conference champions, with the Heat hungry to climb up the standings.
The deal also makes sense for the Spurs, a team still fighting for a playoff spot in the West. Olynyk has struggled to shoot the ball thus far (32.8 percent), but he is an ideal stretch big in Popovich’s system. He has also been a very capable defender in Miami. Iguodala would give San Antonio added veteran leadership and defensive acumen.
It is possible the Spurs could try to snag a future second-rounder. But Olynyk and Iguodala can provide some immediate value without hurting San Antonio’s future books.
2. PDX reunion
Spurs receive: Zach Collins, Enes Kanter, Rodney Hood, 2022 second-round pick
Trail Blazers receive: LaMarcus Aldridge, Drew Eubanks
This would be a bit of a weird one.
Enes Kanter has been a dependable scoring option and rebounder inside. But he is a total liability in pick-and-roll defense. He gets lost on hedges and struggles to commit to an option. Granted, Portland struggles defensively regardless of personnel. Still, it is going to be hard to justify giving Kanter ample minutes once Jusuf Nurkic returns.
Collins is still nursing an ankle injury, his second major physical setback in as many years. The former No. 10 overall pick will be a restricted free agent next season. Maybe he would not exceed the qualifying offer if he hits the open market, given his injuries. Perhaps that makes him appealing to Portland. Then again, there is no guarantee he has shown enough to even merit the QO.
Hood has been horrendous for Portland this season, but he has the ability to be a decent shot creator and scorer. He is also a needed salary filler. Maybe a change of scenery would benefit him.
The Blazers would benefit from more steadiness in the frontcourt, particularly once Nurkic returns. LaMarcus Aldridge would give Portland another very capable scorer and a terrific pick-and-pop option. He could be a dangerous screener for both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, considering he can step back and hit the 3 or seek post entries.
The Spurs might be hesitant to part with Eubanks, a decent rebounder and emerging shot-blocking option. But this deal would flood their frontcourt a bit.
San Antonio has some upside here. Kanter is more of an inside scorer than Aldridge had been earlier this season, which might be what the Spurs need. He is also on an expiring deal.
The Spurs can choose to extend Collins the QO, or let him walk to free cap. Hood is a cap liability, but that’s why the Blazers kick in a draft pick. Plus, maybe he is a decent wing scorer to pick up the slack for DeMar DeRozan, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
1. Big Apple Bound?
Spurs Receive: Frank Ntilikina, Reggie Bullock, 2024 first-round pick
Knicks Receive: LaMarcus Aldridge
The Knicks could be desperate to add another impact player in this current chase for the playoffs. Why not?
LaMarcus Aldridge could be an awesome fit in New York. He would give the Knicks a pair of bigs — alongside Julius Randle — capable of spacing the floor. But whereas Randle excels at breaking less agile bigs down off the dribble, Aldridge uses his footwork and midrange game to score in the post. They could be perfect complements to one another.
For the Spurs, what’s not to like? No, Ntilikina and Bullock are not likely to help their playoff hopes in the immediate sense, though Bullock could be an asset as a 3-and-D wing player.
But both guys are on expiring contracts. Additionally, if San Antonio can finagle a first-round pick out of an interested suitor, they should do it in a heartbeat.
Knicks fans might view the inclusion of a future first as utter nonsense. But New York is angling for the playoffs right now after a long drought, and the Knicks will once again have cap space to work with in the offseason. There is no harm on that front with Aldridge, who himself is on an expiring deal.
Maybe the Knicks will be unwilling to part with draft capital. But this would be a very interesting deal that would allow Aldridge the chance to play in a big market for another veteran head coach in Tom Thibodeau.