The Mavericks are the “biggest threat” to sign LaMarcus Aldridge away from the Trail Blazers this summer, writes Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, citing league sources who nonetheless add that it’s the idea of returning to his native Texas, and not any specific team, that appeals him. Still, the Spurs are either no longer among his preferred destinations or rank low among them, several sources tell Bucher. The Rockets, unlike Dallas and San Antonio, haven’t drawn frequent mention as an Aldridge suitor. The Lakers and Knicks, two other teams that planned to go after Aldridge, aren’t viable options because of their status as rebuilding teams, Bucher hears, while league sources who spoke with Bucher are skeptical that the Celtics, another suitor, hold much appeal.
Still, it’s unclear if Aldridge sits atop the list of priorities for the Mavs, according to Bucher. Dallas, which has apparently been planning to pursue the Arn Tellem client since at least November, also reportedly intends to pursue DeAndre Jordan this summer.
Aldridge doesn’t feel the same way as he did a year ago when he pledged to re-sign with the Blazers as a free agent this July, and the idea that it’s time for a change is driving his desire to look elsewhere, sources tell Bucher. The All-Star power forward can be fickle, as The Oregonian’s Jason Quick wrote several weeks ago, and that’s evidenced not only by his apparent change of heart regarding a long-term commitment to the Blazers but also his apparent waning interest in the Spurs. San Antonio was “near or at” the top of Aldridge’s wish list, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com wrote earlier in the offseason. Bucher reiterates his earlier report that the Spurs are tentatively planning for Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to return, a scenario that would make it more difficult for the Spurs to go after Aldridge or another max-salary free agent. That nonetheless conflicts with what Ken Berger of CBSSports.com wrote a few weeks ago when he heard that the prevailing belief within the Spurs organization was that Duncan would likely be back and Ginobili would probably retire.
In any case, uncertainty surrounding Wesley Matthews, who’s recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon, “changes everything” for Aldridge, a league exec tells Bucher. The Bleacher Report scribe speculates that Aldridge may be worried about Portland’s commitment to re-signing Matthews, a close friend of Aldridge’s. Bucher mentions Aldridge’s cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that he was diagnosed with years ago, as a reason that teams may be somewhat wary of a deal with him, though it would seem as though the No. 3 player on the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings will remain a highly sought-after commodity. Bucher suggests the Blazers are concerned that Aldridge doesn’t feel as though the franchise appreciates him as its marquee star, pointing to evidence indicating that Portland has indeed made him its pre-eminent figure.