FRIDAY, 11:11am: The Spurs and Lakers are both front-runners for Aldridge, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, who writes within his draft winners and losers column.
12:38am: People within the Trail Blazers organization increasingly believe Aldridge is set to bolt, while the Lakers have become confident that they have a shot, Stein reports in a full story. The Blazers plan to be “very aggressive” in efforts to convince Damian Lillard to sign a five-year max extension, according to Stein, who writes in the same story, though it would appear that they won’t have to try too hard, since the point guard wants to sign that extension after he becomes eligible to do so in July, as Shams Charania of RealGM reported in April.
THURSDAY, 12:16am: The Lakers have eclipsed the Mavericks on unrestricted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge‘s list of preferred destinations should he leave Portland, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports (Twitter link). While the Spurs are now at the top of his list, Los Angeles is gaining traction as a potential landing spot, Stein adds. This is a change from a report made last week by Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, who noted that Los Angeles was a distant third on Aldridge’s wish list.
Dallas was previously regarded as the biggest threat to lure the talented forward away from the Blazers, and Aldridge had reportedly soured on San Antonio as a destination, according to a separate report from 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 reshuffling of preferred teams. League sources had informed Bucher that the idea of returning to his native Texas is what appeals to him, not any specific team.
The Lakers currently have $35,075,659 in guaranteed salary committed for 2015/16, which would leave plenty of room for the team to float a maximum salary offer Aldridge’s way. Though, with Los Angeles’ reported pursuit of the Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins, its cap figure could change drastically as a result. But landing the talented Cousins from Sacramento would likely strengthen the Lakers’ appeal in Aldridge’s eyes, though that is merely my speculation. One potential sticking point with such a frontcourt pairing would be Cousins’ stated preference to play more at power forward, which likely wouldn’t be the case if partnered alongside Aldridge. But a chance to contend could assuage Cousins in this regard, and it would certainly be a tremendous coup for Los Angeles to land both players this offseason.