LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge Considers Eventual Return To Portland

A thawing in the once-frosty relationship between Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge could lead to Aldridge eventually returning to the Trail Blazers, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic.

Aldridge, who spent his first nine seasons in Portland, remains second on the team’s career scoring list, with Lillard likely to pass him soon. They had a strained relationship during their three years as teammates that was caused by a sense of awkwardness rather than any specific incident. With Aldridge as an established veteran and Lillard as a high lottery pick who was billed as the team’s future star, they never figured out how to relate to one another. The resulting tension played a role in Aldridge’s decision to leave in free agency in 2015.

Jamal Crawford eventually took on the role as peacemaker, encouraging Lillard and Aldridge to reach out to one another. Their relationship has improved to the point that Aldridge is considering a reunion.

“You never know,” he said. “But of course, if we had a better relationship, it changes the whole outlook of how it went. It’s sad that not talking like we do now could have changed history. But everything happens for a reason. He has flourished in that role, and I keep telling him I’m going to come back and finish there. That’s something him and I have talked about — playing together again.”

Aldridge returning to Portland is unlikely to happen soon. He is signed through the 2020/21 season, making $50MM over the next two years. He has put together back-to-back All-Star appearances and is the second-leading scorer on a Spurs team that has risen to sixth in the West, so there’s no reason for San Antonio to put him on the trading block.

Aldridge will be nearly 36 when he hits free agency in the summer of 2021, so he may decide that’s when he wants to to end his career in Portland. He admits he handled the situation with Lillard poorly and wouldn’t mind returning to the Blazers to make amends.

“I didn’t want to make him think I was stifling his growth, or have a mindset that I was hating on him, so I didn’t say anything to him,” Aldridge said. “That was the wrong approach, because he told me he would have liked guidance and a big brother.”

LeBron, Giannis Draft 2019 All-Star Teams

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo drafted their teams for the 2019 All-Star Game on Thursday, officially finalizing the rosters for this year’s contest. James and Antetokounmpo were chosen as captains because they were the All-Star starter from each conference with the most fan votes.

Both James and Antetokounmpo first had to select from a pool of starters, then from a list of reserve players. The starters, which consisted of eight other players, were voted on by the fans, players and media this season. The reserve players were voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches.

James drafted Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden as starters, choosing Durant as his first selection. His reserves were Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal and Dwyane Wade.

Antetokounmpo drafted Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George and Kemba Walker as his starters, selecting Curry with his first pick. He drafted Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry and Dirk Nowitzki as his reserves.

James later traded Westbrook to Team Giannis in exchange for Simmons, making an effort to repair the relationship of Westbrook and Embiid.

The 68th NBA All-Star Game is set to commence on February 17 at Spectrum Center, featuring 26 of the best basketball players in the world.

Spurs Notes: DeRozan, Murray, Aldridge, Ginobili

Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan says he’s more motivated than he’s ever been in his career, as he told NBA.com in a TV interview. DeRozan was highly agitated when the Raptors traded him away to the Spurs and while he claims he’s over the disappointment, he feels he has something to prove while moving to the Western Conference. “I treated my whole summer workout with that motivation, that chip on my shoulder. It’s making me more anxious to get out there and play,” he said.

In other news around the Spurs:

  • Coach Gregg Popovich said during the team’s annual media day on Monday that Dejounte Murray is up for the challenge of becoming the team’s next standout point guard, Madalyn Mendoza of the San Antonio Express News writes. “He really wants to be good, he really wants to be to the team what Tony (Parker) was to the team,” Popovich said. “I’m confident he’ll do that as time goes on.” Murray’s ability to push the ball will force the tempo and challenge his teammates, Popovich adds. “Other players will have to run like they’ve never run before because he’s going to go,” Popovich said. “And if they want to ball they’ll have to run with him.”
  • LaMarcus Aldridge is glad the Kawhi Leonard saga is over and doesn’t want to rehash it, Michael Bolin of 247Sports relays. “It’s obviously gone now. If you are gonna ask questions about that whole thing, I’m not going to answer it,” the veteran power forward said. “We are happy to turn the page.”
  • Popovich took recently retired guard Manu Ginobili on his annual coaches’ retreat last week, ESPN’s Michael C. Wright tweets. Ginobili revealed earlier this month that Popovich tried to talk him into playing for another season.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2017/18 season, with James Harden and LeBron James leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The voting results will have major financial implications for the three All-NBA centers, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, and Karl-Anthony Towns. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Davis is now eligible for a supermax extension from the Pelicans next summer. Davis will be eligible to sign that deal, which projects to be worth $230MM, as of July 1, 2019.

As for Embiid, missing out on a First Team nod means his maximum-salary contract will remain at 25% of the cap rather than being bumped up to 30%. That means he’ll miss out on approximately $29MM over the next five years, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports details.

Towns, meanwhile, will be eligible for an extension worth 30% of the cap this summer, Marks tweets. An extension of that sort, which would make the cap outlook in Minnesota very interesting, would go into effect for the 2019/20 season.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Harden and James scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

First Team

  • Guard: James Harden, Rockets (500)
  • Guard: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (432)
  • Forward: LeBron James, Cavaliers (500)
  • Forward: Kevin Durant, Warriors (426)
  • Center: Anthony Davis, Pelicans (492)

Second Team

Third Team

Among those results, the tightest race saw DeRozan edge Curry by a single point for a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. Both players received two First Team votes and 39 Second Team votes, with DeRozan grabbing one extra Third Team vote (38 to 37) to bump him up to the Second Team ahead of Curry.

As for the players who didn’t quite make the cut, Rockets point guard Chris Paul (54 points), Jazz center Rudy Gobert (51), Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (42), and Sixers guard/forward Ben Simmons (36) received the most support.

Al Horford (Celtics), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Clint Capela (Rockets), Draymond Green (Warriors), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Steven Adams (Thunder), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Trevor Ariza (Rockets), DeMarcus Cousins (Pelicans), Dwight Howard (Hornets), Kevin Love (Cavaliers), and Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) also each received at least one All-NBA vote.

Southwest Notes: Aldridge, Gay, Gordon, Finney-Smith

A Spurs team that has been without Kawhi Leonard for most of the season has nonetheless been able to remain in playoff contention. LaMarcus Aldridge has been largely responsible for that — once labeled a bust of a free agent signing, Aldridge has stepped up as a clutch leader for San Antonio, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

“He’s basically carried us and everybody else him with his talent and everybody else with their heart,” head coach Gregg Popovich said. “The game goes along, goes along, and then you realize that his heart is as big or bigger than anybody’s.

Aldridge, in his third season with the Spurs, is also in the midst of his best season since departing from Portland. In 66 games, he’s averaging 23.1 PPG 8.4 RPG, and 2.1 APG. Without Aldridge’s production, the Spurs — who recently fell out of playoff contention — would likely not still be in the hunt. His coaches and teammates recognize and appreciate his productivity in a time of need.

“We are not the most talented team in the league,” veteran Manu Ginobili said. “He is the one with the real resources.”

Check out more Southwest Division notes:

  • Rudy Gay escaped from the Kings to join the Spurs and chase a championship. San Antonio is in the postseason picture and Gay, who has played in just one playoff series in his career, wants to help the team, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “I don’t know how they do it, to be honest,” veteran Tony Parker said of players who annually miss the postseason. “I’ve been in eight conference finals, so it’s kind of weird all those guys. But [Rudy Gay] got a great opportunity now with us and we will try to make the most out of it.”
  • Injuries to both Chris Paul and James Harden have given Eric Gordon an opportunity to be the Rockets‘ fill-in starting point guard. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays that Gordon likes the opportunity the injuries created for him. “I like it that way,” Gordon said. “It expands my game more. To me, it’s tougher to determine what I’m going to do when I have the ball in my hands more. If you’re a good playmaker and a good scorer and you have the ball in your hands more, you have a chance to do good things. I do pretty well when I’m the backup point guard.”
  • Dorian Finney-Smith served as a starting shooting guard for the Mavericks in order to get both him and Doug McDermott into the lineup, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes.“If you don’t start [Finney-Smith] at 2 or McDermott at 2, then somebody’s going to get really screwed on minutes,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “And we need to see both of those guys play because they’re both good players. 

Southwest Notes: Green/Paul, Aldridge, Ginobili, Parsons

Late in Sunday night’s win over Minnesota, Gerald Green of the Rockets shoved Timberwolves big man Gorgui Dieng into the stands in retaliation for Dieng pushing Chris Paul to the floor after being fouled

Green was ejected, causing Paul to speak out on his behalf, telling Rockets‘ beat writer Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that he would take care of any fine levied against Green by the league. Said Green, “I’m just trying to be there for my teammate. I saw something happen and I reacted. I paid the consequences for it. I learned my lesson, got ejected, try not to do that again, and hopefully we’re going to move forward from this.”

Despite Green’s contrition, the league announced today that it has fined the Rockets swingman $25K for the incident, with no word yet on whether or not Paul with stay true to his word and foot the bill for Green coming to his defense.

There’s more coming out of the Southwest Division:

  • With all of the uncertainty surrounding the injury to and possible return of superstar Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge has quietly saved the Spurs‘ season, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “I’m a leader, so I have to do what we need – playing defense, blocking shots, scoring,” Aldridge said. “It all comes with it. But my teammates have been great. Everyone has gotten better in this stretch. It’s been good for us.”
  • In another article for the San Antonio Express-News, McDonald reports that Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr believes that Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili, 40, still has another year or so left in the tank. “I could see Manu playing when he is like 58, honestly,” Kerr said before Monday’s game. “He loves the game. He keeps himself in such great shape. I thought he was going to retire last year, so the fact he came back this year surprised me. (But) it wouldn’t shock me at all if Manu came back next year.”
  • It has been a frustrating tenure so far in Memphis for Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons, but as reported by Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com, Parsons believes he can get back to form next season barring any additional injury setbacks. “Obviously, there were high expectations coming here and I haven’t come close to meeting them. But in my head, it’s all health. I know if I’m healthy, I can play with the best of them. And I’ve shown flashes of that this year when I’ve played minutes.”

LaMarcus Aldridge Talks Popovich Meeting, Extension, Lillard

In an in-depth feature for Vice Sports, Michael Pina profiled reticent Spurs star LaMarcus Aldridge, who suggests that he’s “probably one of the most misunderstood people” in the NBA. As Aldridge explains, he isn’t overly fond of new environments or being around a lot of new people, so he has a “little circle of three or four people that I’m close to” and can come off as standoff-ish to those who don’t know him.

Aldridge’s personality was believed to have played a part in his departure from Portland, and at times during the 2017 offseason, it looked like a departure from San Antonio was in the cards as well. However, a sitdown between Aldridge and head coach Gregg Popovich helped smooth things over, and the Spurs big man is currently enjoying one of the best seasons of his career.

Pina’s piece is worth checking out in full, but we’ve pulled a few of Aldridge’ more notable quotes about his meeting with Popovich, the contract extension he signed with the Spurs, and his history with former Trail Blazers teammate Damian Lillard. Let’s dive in…

On Aldridge’s meeting with Popovich and his reported trade request:

“To have a heart-to-heart with a coach about me not being able to be myself … I felt like I had to have that conversation. It was like, ‘This has to happen.’ It wasn’t about being nervous, it was about going about it the right way, making sure it was professional. Making sure I respected everything about him and the organization. I feel like the way I went about it and how I communicated my feelings, he listened to me. It was about figuring out how to do it in the right way so he doesn’t think I’m some arrogant punk just trying to cause problems.

“I think a lot got lost in translation (in media reports about his trade request). I didn’t go and say ‘Hey, I want out.’ It was like, ‘I can’t be the player you want me to be, so let me help you get that person because I respect you and the organization so much.’ That’s how it really went, but people took it and twisted it.”

On whether he doubted that he’d still be with the Spurs at this point:

“I knew some work had to be done. I wouldn’t say I doubted it, but I knew a lot of things had to be worked on and I took my responsibility and I went home and got healthy and worked hard and made sure I came back with the right mentality. Pop and the organization then did their thing to try and let me be myself. So I wouldn’t say I doubted it, but I knew a lot of things had to be done. I knew it was going to be tough.”

On how he ended up signing a contract extension with the Spurs last fall:

“[Agent Jeff Schwartz] was like, ‘They might think I’m bats**t crazy, but I’m gonna call them.’ I was like, ‘Go ahead.’ He made the call just to see if they were interested, and they were taken aback. But I think they could see in my body language and my demeanor that I was happier. I felt more comfortable. Both sides went back and forth until they got it done.”

On his relationship with Damian Lillard:

“I would say him and I have learned more about each other since I left that would’ve helped us when I was there, so I’ve learned from that and I’m trying to be better and not worry if I come off a certain way, because I feel like when people know who I am as a person, they know I have no ill will. I’m more reserved, so I didn’t want to come off as trying to stifle his shine. I just got back in the corner and let him do his thing … I feel like if him and I communicated as much then as we do now, then things would’ve been totally different.”

Western Notes: Reed, Aldridge, Chriss, Blazers

Veteran center Willie Reed was sent from the Clippers to the Pistons in the Blake Griffin trade, then flipped again at the deadline to the Bulls in exchange for Jameer Nelson. Chicago quickly waived Reed, and the big man has been a free agent since then.

Reed’s per-minute numbers over the course of 152 NBA games have been solid (14.3 PPG, 11.0 RPG per 36 minutes), and he has drawn some interest from at least a couple Western Conference teams, a source tells Orazio Cauchi of Sportando (Twitter link). However, Reed’s appeal is limited due to a six-game suspension for a domestic incident, which he has yet to serve.

As we wait to see if Reed finds a new NBA home before the end of the season, let’s round up a few more notes from around the Western Conference…

  • The Spurs received some good news on LaMarcus Aldridge‘s ankle injury, as Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio-Express News details. A league source tells Orsborn that Aldridge is day-to-day with a sprained right ankle, apparently having avoided a more serious injury.
  • After making some cryptic comments prior to the All-Star break about his attitude on and off the court, Suns forward Marquese Chriss expanded on those thoughts in a conversation with Scott Bordow of The Arizona Republic. Chriss, who says he had long conversations with GM Ryan McDonough and head coach Jay Triano during the break, spoke about taking care of mental health and not taking his spot in the NBA for granted.
  • The Trail Blazers‘ play down the stretch – and in the playoffs – could be a major factor in determining some of the team’s offseason moves, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, who identifies Jusuf Nurkic‘s looming restricted free agency as one key roster decision facing the club.

LaMarcus Aldridge Exits Game With Ankle Injury

LaMarcus Aldridge could potentially undergo an MRI tomorrow for a right ankle injury that he suffered in the first quarter of the Spurs’ 121-116 loss to the Pelicans tonight, according to a tweet from Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News. Aldridge attempted to return to the game after sustaining the injury but did not play in the second half.

There’s no word as to the severity of the injury, and the MRI could simply be precautionary, but for an already short-handed team missing superstar Kawhi Leonard and in the midst of a tight playoff race, the latest setback could prove devastating.

With 7:17 remaining in the first quarter, Aldridge landed awkwardly after attempting to block a shot attempt by Rajon Rondo. He fell to the floor but was able to stay in the game until the 3:02 mark, when he headed to the locker room. Aldridge returned in the second quarter for little over four minutes of game time before calling it quits for the night.

Aldridge, 32, was averaging 22.8 PPG and 8.3 RPG in 56 games before tonight’s contest and was named to his sixth All-Star team earlier this season.

Texas Notes: Harden, D’Antoni, Aldridge, Nowitzki

All-star guard James Harden believes the Rockets boosted their chances to win a title by adding free agents Joe Johnson and Brandan Wright, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. Both signed with Houston this week after reaching buyout agreements, adding depth to a roster that has the league’s best record at the break.

“Those are experienced vets who both have playoff experience,” Harden said. “And we all want to win – that’s what everyone on this roster has in common. We have a roster full of guys who are hungry and ready to compete at a high level. We have really good depth now. We have a roster of guys, from top to bottom, who can step in and really get the job done. That’s exciting, and it also means everyone’s minutes should go down, but our productivity [as a whole] should go up.”

He also addressed the compatibility concerns that were raised after the trade for Chris Paul last summer. Harden said he and Paul both adopted a team-first attitude that made blending their talents an easy transition.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • After a lifetime in basketball, Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni has found the perfect team to fit his style, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. D’Antoni, an All-Star coach for the second time in his career, was happy as associate head coach in Philadelphia until Rockets owner Leslie Alexander offered him a job in the summer of 2016. Houston has given D’Antoni a roster filled with shooters to complement his philosophy on offense. “Some people accused me of being stubborn all those years I didn’t change,” he said. “I didn’t think I was being stubborn. I thought that was the way to do it. Why should I change if I know it’s the right thing to do?”
  • Returning to the All-Star Game after a one-year absence, LaMarcus Aldridge no longer feels out of place in San Antonio, according to Tom Orborne of The San Antonio Express-News. An offseason trade request led to a heart-to-heart talk with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and sparked a resurgence in Aldridge, who has increased his scoring average by five points per game and is topping 20 PPG for the first time since leaving Portland. “The Spurs have kind of learned who I am as a person and have let me be me,” Aldridge said. “They had Tim [Duncan], who was an introvert, kind of a private person, so now they understand me better.”
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he laughs any time another team brings up Dirk Nowitzki in a trade proposal, relays Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report. Nowitzki adds that Kobe Bryant once tried to convince him to sign with the Lakers, but he never seriously considered leaving Dallas.