LaMarcus Aldridge

Southwest Notes: Ingram, Mavericks, Benson, Aldridge

Pelicans All-Star forward Brandon Ingram, recently crowned the Most Improved Player for the 2019/20 season, made significant strides this season after his trade from the Lakers, per William Guillory of The Athletic.

Ingram specifically credits the time he logged watching game tape, both of himself with the Lakers and of the Pelicans’ offense, with his performative improvement. “When I wasn’t on the court, I just had to visualize things,” Ingram said during a media Zoom conversation Monday. “I had to watch film … It helped me out.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Following an exciting 2019/20 campaign that ended in a 4-2 loss to the Clippers, Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News takes a look at the Mavericks‘ roster. Caplan assesses player performance this season and projects how players will fare next year, looking at everyone from All-Star Luka Doncic to crucial veteran role player Trey Burke.
  • After testing positive for the novel coronavirus COVID-19, Pelicans (and Saints) owner Gayle Benson has been cleared to return to team activities by doctors, per Jeff Duncan of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • The Spurs apparently tried to shop big man LaMarcus Aldridge at this season’s trade deadline, though potential trade partners balked at San Antonio’s requested return haul, as we previously reported.

Spurs Rumors: Popovich, Roster, Aldridge, DeRozan

As rumors continue to swirl about the possibility that the Nets will make a run at longtime San Antonio head coach Gregg Popovich, Spurs CEO R.C. Buford said that his team is operating under the assumption that Popovich will be returning for the 2020/21 season, writes Jabari Young of CNBC.com.

“I don’t know if he’s told (Spurs general manager) Brian (Wright) any differently,” Buford said. “Pop’s shown nothing other than how we’re going to build our team for next year.”

Popovich is easily the NBA’s current longest-tenured head coach and seems likely to return to the Spurs for at least one more year. However, he’s also the league’s oldest coach at age 71, so the club can’t count on him to remain in his current role indefinitely. Still, Buford is confident that Popovich’s influence will linger even after he eventually leaves the franchise.

“Pop’s vision will be in play long after his presence,” Buford said, per Young. “That doesn’t mean it’ll be him in there making those decisions, but we’ve all learned together, and you’re not going to step away from a values-based, team-building aspect that focuses on culture and coming to work every day and working on it.”

Here’s more from Young on the Spurs:

  • Asked about the Spurs’ roster direction, Wright expressed that he likes the team’s mix of veterans and younger players, while Buford said San Antonio will continue to address its roster “optimistically and opportunistically,” according to Young. “I think having the ability to develop young talent and flexibility to be opportunistic is going to be what we’re going to continue to do,” Buford said.
  • According to Young, the Spurs were rumored to be shopping LaMarcus Aldridge near this season’s trade deadline, but rival executives believe the club’s asking price was too high. “(The Spurs) overplayed their hand thinking they were supposed to get some giant package for him,” one NBA executive told CNBC.
  • Within Young’s article on the Spurs, he observes that DeMar DeRozan will likely decide to pick up his 2020/21 player option. While that sounds more like informed speculation than a firm report, it’s still worth noting, since Young suggested during the winter that DeRozan may be unhappy in San Antonio and another report around the same time indicated he’d likely opt out if he’s not extended. That was before the coronavirus pandemic changed the NBA landscape, however.

Western Notes: Holiday, Duncan, Len, Hield, Schiller

Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday announced today during an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump that he and his wife Lauren will be putting his remaining game checks toward the Jrue and Lauren Social Justice Impact Fund, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN writes.

The aim of the social justice fund will be to help communities in New Orleans, Indianapolis, and the Los Angeles area, according to Lopez. Holiday plays in New Orleans, his brothers Aaron Holiday and Justin Holiday play in Indiana, and the Holiday family is from the L.A. area.

“We want to make an impact,” Holiday told ESPN. “God has blessed us with so much. We know a couple of things that are important are time and money, and right now, we have both. To be able to give away our money to help further this movement and Black-owned businesses that have taken a hit in COVID-19, to us, it felt like the perfect time and opportunity.”

Lopez suggests that Holiday’s remaining game checks could be worth up to $5.3MM — that estimate seems a little high based on my calculations, but considering the veteran guard has a 2019/20 salary of $26MM+, his donations will be substantial.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Spurs assistant coach Tim Duncan won’t be with the team in Orlando, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times, who tweets that Duncan is staying in San Antonio to help oversee LaMarcus Aldridge‘s rehab from shoulder surgery.
  • Like Harrison Barnes, center Alex Len – who recently contracted COVID-19 – isn’t yet with the Kings at the Walt Disney World campus, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “We have to prepare as if we’re not going to have either one of those guys,” head coach Luke Walton said of Barnes and Len. “And that’s just getting ready for what worst-case scenario would be. And there’s a reality that might be it. So our mindset is we prep that we’re not going to have them with us, and we’re hopeful that they rejoin us.”
  • Within the same story, McMenamin passes along Buddy Hield‘s comments on his experience with the coronavirus. The Kings sharpshooter said his symptoms were mild and that the virus resulted in just “a little head cold” and “chills one night.”
  • G League Coach of the Year Martin Schiller, who had been the head coach of the Jazz‘ NBAGL affiliate, is leaving the Salt Lake City Stars to coach Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania, as Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune details.

Spurs’ Aldridge To Miss Rest Of Season With Shoulder Injury

Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge has undergone a surgical procedure on his right shoulder and will miss the remainder of the 2019/20 season, the club announced today in a press release.

According to the Spurs, Aldridge underwent an arthroscopic subacromial decompression and rotator cuff debridement. San Antonio’s announcement indicates that the 34-year-old had the procedure on April 24, so it sounds as if the team has known for the last month-and-a-half that he’ll be sidelined until next season.

Aldridge initially injured his shoulder on February 21. After suiting up for the Spurs’ next game on February 23, he missed six contests and returned to action on March 10 for the club’s last game before the season was suspended.

With Aldridge on the shelf until the start of training camp in 2020/21, the Spurs will be an even longer shot for the No. 8 seed in the West this summer. Currently, the team sits four games back of Memphis, but would have to pass Sacramento, New Orleans, and Portland in the standings in order to become the team that forces a play-in tournament with the Grizzlies. If the Spurs don’t make the postseason, their 22-year playoff streak will come to an end.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), the the NBA’s proposed roster rules for the restart would allow San Antonio to sign an injury replacement for Aldridge. That player would had to have played in the NBA or G League this season.

As for Aldridge’s future, he’s under contract with the Spurs for one more season, with a $24MM cap hit for 2020/21. He’d become an unrestricted free agent in 2021 if he’s not extended before then.

The seven-time All-Star remained productive for San Antonio in 2019/20, averaging 18.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, and 1.6 BPG with a .493/.389/.827 shooting line in 53 games (33.1 MPG).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southwest Notes: Aldridge, Finley, Rockets, Cash

Asked earlier this week by a fan which former teammate he’d like to add to the Trail Blazers‘ current roster, Damian Lillard named Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge. That tweet – sent from Portland’s official Twitter account – was soon deleted, but not before Aldridge replied to it with an eyeballs emoji.

Speaking to Michael C. Wright of NBA.com, Aldridge downplayed the significance of his response, but acknowledged that he wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to the idea of returning to Portland and finishing his career with the Trail Blazers. He also diplomatically didn’t rule out the idea of remaining with the Spurs for the remainder of his career.

“I think either one would be fine with me. I feel like I’ve made some good memories in San Antonio. I feel like I’m in a really good family in San Antonio. They understand me. I understand them. So, I like that,” Aldridge said. “I feel I have a lot of history in Portland. So, going back there to finish would be fine also. I’m perfectly fine with finishing my career in San Antonio riding it out until my next chapter, or if things have to change there, and if (the Spurs) decide to go young, then I wouldn’t mind going to (the Trail Blazers).”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Appearing on the McNeil & Parkins Show on 670 The Score in Chicago, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was evasive when asked whether the Bulls have asked to interview Michael Finley for a front office position. However, he said he’d grant Chicago permission to speak to Finley if asked. Finley was identified last week as a potential candidate for the Bulls’ GM opening.
  • As Kelly Iko of The Athletic details, the Rockets only played 14 games after trading away Clint Capela before this year’s trade deadline. That small sample size could be problematic, especially if the season doesn’t resume, since the Rockets will have to make offseason decisions based on whether or not they feel the center-less lineup is a viable approach going forward.
  • William Guillory of The Athletic examines the role that Pelicans vice president of basketball operations Swin Cash has played in her first year with the franchise and the impact she has had on the team’s young players.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Aldridge, Nuggets, Nader

When Damian Lillard took over the Trail Blazers‘ Twitter account on Monday evening for a Q&A with fans, most of the questions and his responses were fairly innocuous. However, one of Lillard’s answers had to be deleted after the fact.

As Nico Martinez of Fadeaway World details (hat tip to NBC Sports), when asked which former teammate he’d like to have on the current Trail Blazers roster, Lillard replied, “I’d add LaMarcus (Aldridge).”

That sort of comment wouldn’t be a big deal if Lillard said it during a Zoom or Instagram Live session, but the NBA may not take kindly to him making it on the Trail Blazers’ official Twitter account. The league introduced new anti-tampering measures last year and Lillard’s tweet – by way of the Blazers’ account – arguably violates those rules.

Although the tweet has since been removed, it’s sure to fuel speculation about an eventual reunion between the Trail Blazers and Aldridge, which has been a topic of discussion multiple times in recent years. For what it’s worth, Aldridge himself responded to Lillard’s tweet with an eyes emoji.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Once it became clear that Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas wanted the Bulls‘ head of basketball operations job, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly organized mock interview sessions to help him make a good impression in his actual meeting, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “It was amazing,” said Karnisovas, who was officially hired by Chicago on Monday. “It’s a prep, but that’s what I’m all about. I like to be all prepared. We prepared for all the questions and we covered all the bases. He helped me out.”
  • Nick Kosmider and John Hollinger of The Athetic take an in-depth look at the state of the Nuggets, examining what steps are necessary to turn Denver from a strong playoff team into a legitimate title contender.
  • In his third NBA season and second with the Thunder, Abdel Nader improved his shooting efficiency and made major strides on the defensive end, writes Logan Meyer of Daily Thunder. Oklahoma City is in position to keep Nader for one more year before he reaches free agency — he has a minimum-salary team option for 2020/21.

Western Notes: Johnson, LeBron, Aldridge, DeRozan

Cameron Johnson, who was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2019 draft, should see an increased role next season in Phoenix, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic contends. The Suns rookie had made 91 three-pointers in 49 games and his progression may allow the franchise to focus on other position as it looks to upgrade the roster this summer.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Lakers star LeBron James is being sued by a photographer for posting content on his social media pages without permission, as I detailed on Heavy.com. The photojournalist captured a picture of James dunking on Meyers Leonard earlier in the season.
  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News examines LaMarcus Aldridge‘s season and wonders if the 34-year-old big man has a lengthy future with the Spurs. Aldridge has one year and $24MM left on his deal after this season.
  • DeMar DeRozan‘s future with the Spurs isn’t certain either, as McDonald writes in a separate piece. The shooting guard is expected to decline his player option for next season and seek a long-term contract—either with San Antonio or another club.

Injury Updates: Aldridge, DSJ, Celtics, Sixers, Bagley

A pair of players who have missed some time with injuries are on track to return to action tonight. One of those players is Spurs big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who has been sidelined since February 23 due to a right shoulder strain. Head coach Gregg Popovich said today that Aldridge will be back in action on Tuesday night against Dallas, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, Dennis Smith Jr., who has missed the Knicks‘ last five games, has been cleared from the NBA’s concussion protocol and will be active on Tuesday night in Washington, head coach Mike Miller told reporters this evening (Twitter link via Ian Begley of SNY.tv).

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said today that Jaylen Brown (hamstring), who will miss his fourth straight game tonight, also seems unlikely to play on Thursday. Stevens added that Kemba Walker‘s left knee is feeling good, though the point guard will remain limited to about 30-32 minutes per game (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN).
  • Both Joel Embiid (shoulder) and Josh Richardson (concussion) returned to practice today for the Sixers, per Bontemps (Twitter link). Embiid is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. Detroit, while Richardson should be good to go, tweets Jon Johnson of SportsRadio 94WIP.
  • As the Kings continue to push for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, there’s no indication that Marvin Bagley‘s return is imminent. The team issued a press release today announcing that Bagley continues to recover from a left midfoot sprain and is doing some on-court running and skill work. Sacramento provided no specific timeline for the big man, simply saying that updates will be provided “as appropriate.”

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Spurs Rumors: Gay, Carroll, Belinelli, Bertans

The Spurs are “looking at everything” and weighing a variety of potential paths at the trade deadline, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on a Sunday podcast with Bobby Marks. At 22-26, San Antonio is 1.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Grizzlies and is at risk of missing the postseason for the first time since the turn of the century. The club will have to decide whether to push to continue that streak, take a step back and retool, or simply stand pat.

Having spoken with executives around the NBA, Jabari Young of CNBC Sports says there’s a belief the Spurs want to push for the playoffs. “They are 100% obsessed with getting that eighth seed,” one executive told Young.

If that’s the case, it wouldn’t make sense for San Antonio to trade DeMar DeRozan or LaMarcus Aldridge. However, moving Rudy Gay is a scenario that rival executives consider more realistic, Young suggests.

“If they get a nice asset back, I think they would do something with Rudy Gay, but I think their asking price is too high,” an exec told Young.

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • In his conversation with Marks, Wojnarowski speculated that the Spurs may view the idea of trading veterans like DeRozan, Aldridge, and Gay as an “all-or-nothing” proposition. In other words, in the unlikely event that the team could move all three players and get good value back, it could be worth rebooting the roster. Otherwise, it might not make sense to move just one or two of them.
  • The Spurs are working with agent Mark Bartelstein in an effort to find a new home for little-used veteran forward DeMarre Carroll, according to Jabari Young. After signing a three-year deal with San Antonio last summer, Carroll has appeared in just 15 total games this season, including two since Christmas. He has admitted that his reduced role has been “difficult.”
  • According to Young, the Spurs are also shopping Marco Belinelli, a 37.5% career three-point shooter who is on a $5.85MM expiring contract. No serious suitors have emerged for Belinelli, who is considered a liability on defense, Young adds.
  • If Davis Bertans hadn’t been traded last summer, he would’ve seriously considered re-signing with the Spurs in the summer of 2020, a league source tells Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report. That ship has probably sailed now though, according to Scotto, who revisits the saga that saw Marcus Morris renege on a free agent agreement with San Antonio. Morris didn’t tell the franchise directly that he was backing out of his commitment and the Spurs learned of his intentions after he failed to show up for his physical, says Scotto.