FRIDAY, 8:28am: Two executives told Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com last month that there was a belief among some around the league that Aldridge would consider the Knicks as well as the Spurs this summer.
2:03pm: All options are on the table for Aldridge this summer, including a departure from the Blazers, a source familiar with his free agency strategy told Ken Berger of CBSSports.com. The source also said to Berger that he wouldn’t be surprised if the All-Star signed with a Texas team.
THURSDAY, 8:59am: The Spurs and Mavs believe they can convince LaMarcus Aldridge to sign with them in free agency this summer, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). Both teams are planning aggressive pursuits of the Blazers power forward, and the Knicks and Lakers will go after him, too, Stein also says. It’s the latest ominous news for Portland’s hopes of keeping the No. 4 player in our Free Agent Power Rankings, in spite of his insistence last summer and before the season that he intends to re-sign, and the Blazers have their “work cut out” for them if they’re to retain their star, as Stein puts it.
A Blazers teammate who spoke with The Oregonian’s Jason Quick earlier this month cast it as a 50-50 proposition that the Arn Tellem client would be back with the Blazers. Quick noted that Aldridge feels as though the franchise is behind him, but the veteran of nine NBA seasons, all of them in Portland, recently expounded to Michael Lee of The Washington Post on times when he didn’t sense that sort of support from the Blazers. The Blazers have been “very, very scared” that Aldridge will leave, as one rival executive said to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News in February, though that executive chalked the team’s feeling up to paranoia.
Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News first reported in November that Dallas planned to target the native of nearby Seagoville, Texas, while Grantland’s Zach Lowe has consistently heard chatter vaguely linking Aldridge to San Antonio. The big man praised Knicks president Phil Jackson and the city of New York and said that he thought he’d be a fit for the triangle upon prompting from New York media at the All-Star Game. There hasn’t been much connecting Aldridge to the Lakers, besides a report from Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders indicating that the prospect of the former No. 2 overall pick winding up in purple-and-gold was a long shot. Still, Aldridge makes sense for a Lakers team with plenty of cap flexibility and an ever-present desire to chase star free agents.
The same can be said for the Knicks, and the Mavs have max-level flexibility, too, though the team’s apparent willingness to move on from Rajon Rondo will help Dallas clear the cap space necessary to put a max offer in front of Aldridge. The Spurs have a more complicated path as long as Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili decide they want to return, but having decided against a lucrative extension for Kawhi Leonard this past fall gives the Spurs a chance to clear max cap room. His cap hold remains just slightly more than $7.235MM until San Antonio signs him to a new deal or matches an offer sheet for him.