Is LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs the answer for another NBA team right now? The Sacramento Kings are not in a good place right now. The down-on-their-luck Western Conference franchise was just left out of the 2019 playoffs, the closest they have been since their last postseason berth in 2006.
They’re 8-11 under new head coach Luke Walton, and generally look like they have regressed from last season. The Kings are a bottom-10 team in both offensive rating and net rating, with their defensive rating just barely outside the worst third of the league.
One suggestion that has floated around is trading for San Antonio Spurs All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
Aldridge, 34, makes $26 million this season—and has a trade kicker—and is still due $24 million next year, when the two-year extension expires in 2021. So, along with being a solid player in the frontcourt, the veteran is worth quite a lot of pocket change.
One of the prevailing arguments to trade for Aldridge is his mentorship for sophomore big man Marvin Bagley III, who has been out since Sacramento’s first game with a thumb injury, but he should return possibly as soon as next week.
While a potential deal surrounding Aldridge makes sense for the Spurs—who are playing some of their worst defense this season—it would simply not be a good fit for the leaning-young Sactown team that (should) rely on speed and creating turnovers on defense to feed their offense.
This is an area the Kings have truly went away from with Walton on board and more noticeably with rising star point guard De’Aaron Fox out with an ankle injury. The Kings are the second-slowest team in the NBA behind, with only the Denver Nuggets averaging fewer possessions per game than Walton’s squad.
The Spurs, strangely, are actually the 13th-fastest team in terms of pace at the moment, much to Aldridge’s chagrin. The 6-foot-11 power forward prefers to play a slower game, more antiquated but efficient for the seven-time All-Star. This is no way a condemnation of players or teams who want to avoid the “pace-and-space” contemporary NBA movement; however, for the Kings specifically, there has been proven success in upping the pace of the game (last season Sacramento was the third-fastest team and won its most games since last making the playoffs).
Aldridge does not fulfill that desire and would be in contradiction to a faster ethos that could portend to a return to success for the Kings.
Aldridge is undoubtedly a good player—he’s averaging 18.9 points and 6.7 rebounds while shooting 51.7% from the floor—and he could help improve a team that may land him before the trade deadline should he be dealt. But for the Kings, they need to move away from Aldridge and similar players and lean into a faster pace led by a (healthy) Fox.
For the time being, there is nothing Bagley can learn from Aldridge that would coalesce with how the current roster is constructed to succeed.