LaMarcus Aldridge

Popovich: Aldridge Requested Trade In Offseason

Before he signed a contract extension with the Spurs in October, LaMarcus Aldridge was the subject of frequent trade rumors. While it appeared San Antonio was willing to move Aldridge, head coach Gregg Popovich confirmed on Thursday that the big man himself was also in favor of a change of scenery. Asked about Aldridge’s bounce-back 2017/18 performance, Popovich said last night that the turning point was when the 32-year-old requested a trade in the offseason.

“It’s as simple as that,” Popovich said, per Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com. “I said, ‘Whoa, nobody’s ever said that to me before.’ It’s my 20-whatever year, and nobody’s ever said that like, ‘I’m not enjoying this. I’m not confident. I’m not sure you want me here. I want to be traded.'”

According to Popovich, he and Aldridge had some “dinners and meetings” before the season to clear the air and to talk through any issues between the player and team. The Spurs’ head coach accepted responsibility for Aldridge’s unhappiness, admitting he tried to turn the veteran into a different player, which he called “total overcoaching” on his part. By the time Aldridge signed his new contract with the Spurs and the season got underway, everyone was on the same page.

“I was very candid with him,” Popovich said. “I told him, ‘I’d be happy to trade you. You get me a talent like Kevin Durant, and I’ll drive you to the airport. I’ll pack your bags. And I will drive you there, get you on the plane, and get you seated.’ He laughed, you know, that kind of thing. I said, ‘But short of that, I’m your best buddy because you’re here for another year, and you ain’t going nowhere. Because we’re not gonna get for you talent-wise what we would want. So, let’s figure this thing out.’ And we did. That’s what we came to.”

In 41 games this season, Aldridge has averaged 22.6 PPG and 8.6 RPG, his best marks since joining the Spurs in 2015.

Spurs Notes: Parker, Murray, Simmons, Aldridge

Veteran point guard Tony Parker remains on assignment with the Austin Spurs in the G League for now, as he continues to rehab his quadriceps injury. However, he is inching closer to a return.

Addressing his recovery timeline today, Parker said he remains on track to get back in the Spurs’ lineup by late November, according to Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). Parker added that he could play now, but he and the Spurs are being cautious and taking it slow.

Dejounte Murray‘s solid play at point guard to open the regular season gives the Spurs the flexibility to be even more cautious with Parker, since there’s no need to rush him back. Head coach Gregg Popovich indicated this week though that the play of Murray and the rest of San Antonio’s backcourt won’t have an impact on Parker’s return date, one way or the other.

“Tony will come back when he’s ready,” Popovich said, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “It’s got nothing to do with anybody else.”

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • With Murray playing well as the Spurs’ starting point guard, Parker was asked about the possibility of coming off the bench when he returns, as Young relays. Parker’s response? “Right now, I’m not even thinking about that. Right now, I just want to come back and play.”
  • He’s no longer a member of the Spurs, but Jonathon Simmons – who signed with the Magic in the summer – still raves about everything he learned during his two seasons in San Antonio. John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com has the details, with the quotes from Simmons.
  • After being the subject of trade rumors for much of the year, LaMarcus Aldridge unexpectedly reached an agreement on a contract extension with the Spurs earlier this month. Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post takes a closer look at how Aldridge and the Spurs mended their relationship, leading to the big man’s new deal.

Western Notes: Aldridge, Jackson, Green, Lakers

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admits it was a mistake trying to change LaMarcus Aldridge, relays Melissa Rohlin of The San Antonio Express News. After five straight seasons of topping 20 points per game in Portland, Aldridge dropped to 18.0 and 17.3 in his first two years in San Antonio.

Popovich talked to Aldridge several times during the offseason and realized that he should have let the power forward play his game. “I thought back to Timmy [Duncan], and people said, ‘Oh, what are you going to do with Tim Duncan,’” the coach said. “And I said, ‘Nothing, I’m just going to watch him for six months and see what he does. He’s a pretty good player. And if there’s something that I think I can add, then I’ll do it.’ With LaMarcus, he got here and on day one I said, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this. And [Jack] Sikma did this. And you’re going to do this pump fake.’ I tried to change him. I tried to make him a different player.’”

Southwest Notes: Aldridge, CP3, Grizzlies, Parsons

LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs haven’t always seen eye to eye over the last two years, but in the wake of a contract agreement that extended Aldridge’s deal by an additional two years, the big man sounds as happy as he’s ever been in San Antonio. As Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News details, Aldridge says “everything is great” between him and the Spurs, and that both sides are pleased with the extension.

“I feel like the talks this summer (between Aldridge and the Spurs) were very constructive and were kind of needed, having a heart to heart where you just say how you feel,” Aldridge said. “And I feel like Pop (Gregg Popovich) has been great about the things that I said or kind of needed or wanted, and so far it’s been great.”

Asked by Jabari Young of The Express-News (Twitter link) if he hopes to finish his career with the Spurs, Aldridge said that would most likely be his preference. Still, his new deal doesn’t add a ton of new years to his contract. As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets, the extension adds one guaranteed year worth $26MM, then one additional season that’s partially guaranteed ($7MM of $24MM). The pact also features a 15% trade kicker, Woj adds.

Here’s more from around the Southwest division:

  • Troy Williams (Rockets) and Dorian Finney-Smith (Mavericks) saw the guarantees on their respective contracts increase this week, as our salary guarantee calendar shows. Williams’ salary for the season is now fully guaranteed.
  • In an in-depth feature for ESPN The Magazine, Jackie MacMullan provides an inside look at Chris Paul‘s decision to join the Rockets over the summer. Within the piece, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers admits that the relationship between him and Paul suffered toward the end.
  • After waiving Wade Baldwin and Rade Zagorac to set the regular season roster this week, Grizzlies GM Chris Wallace said those decisions were “extremely difficult,” per Ronald Tillery of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “If this was a normal year when we didn’t have extra players who were viable then Wade and Rade wouldn’t be released,” Wallace said. Zagorac isn’t eligible to head to the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate, but the team thinks there’s a good chance they’ll bring him back down the road, tweets Tillery.
  • The Grizzlies‘ major free agent signing of 2016, Chandler Parsons, won’t be in the starting lineup to open the season, making him one of the NBA’s highest-paid bench players. Tillery has the details in another article for The Commercial Appeal.

Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge Agree To Extension

OCTOBER 16th, 11:07pm: The signing is official, per team release.

4:11pm: Charania clarifies in his full report on the trade that Aldridge’s extension will actually add just two years to his current deal, with the 2018/19 player option representing the third year. In total, Aldridge will be under contract for four years, with a partial guarantee in year four.Aldridge vertical

3:26pm: The Spurs have reached an agreement with big man LaMarcus Aldridge on a contract extension, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Wojnarowski first reported earlier today that the two sides were engaged in discussions on a possible extension.

Aldridge’s new contract is a three-year extension worth $72.3MM, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter) that the third and final year is only partially guaranteed. The 32-year-old exercised his 2018/19 player option as part of the agreement, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter), so the new deal will begin in 2019/20 and will lock him up for five years in total.

Aldridge, who initially joined the Spurs as a free agent in the summer of 2015, saw his production drop off a little last season. His 17.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and .477 FG% were all below his career averages, while his 18.6 PER was his lowest mark since 2009/10.

The dip in Aldridge’s performance makes the timing of the contract extension somewhat surprising. Wojnarowski noted in his piece earlier today that the relationship between Aldridge and the Spurs has been rocky over the last two years — both sides have been unhappy at times, and the team explored trade scenarios involving the former Blazer earlier this year.

However, according to Wojnarowski, Aldridge arrived at camp this year in better shape than usual, and has strengthened his relationship with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

With Aldridge’s player option for 2018/19 now locked in, the Spurs have approximately $78.4MM in guaranteed money on their cap for next season. With the NBA salary cap projected to increase slightly to $101MM, the Spurs could have some flexibility. But their estimated team salary doesn’t include player options for Danny Green, Rudy Gay, and Joffrey Lauvergne, or possible new deals for free-agents-to-be like Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson.

Because Aldridge’s new contract exceeds the parameters of an extend-and-trade deal, he won’t be eligible to be traded for six months after signing his extension, meaning he won’t be the subject of trade rumors at this season’s deadline.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Exum, Kerr, Ball, Aldridge

Jazz point guard Dante Exum has opted for surgery on his separated left shoulder, the team announced in a press release. The surgery, which will take place on October 24th, will stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The team did not announce a timetable for Exum’s return but he’s likely to miss most or all of the season, Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune speculates.

Exum, 22, missed the 2015/16 season with an ACL tear. He returned last season and played in 66 games, averaging a career-high 6.2 PPG and 1.8 APG. The Jazz acquired Ricky Rubio during the offseason to start at the point. Raul Neto and Donovan Mitchell will back him up in Exum’s absence.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors have not discussed a contract extension with coach Steve Kerr because of his health issues, Monte Poole of NBCSports.com reports. Neither side has prioritized an extension because Kerr is focused on finding ways to eliminate the headaches and dizziness he’s suffered after undergoing back surgeries, Poole continues. Kerr is in the fourth season of a five-year deal worth $25MM. “I’m just not ready to look that far ahead,” Kerr told Poole and other media members.
  • Wing Royce O’Neale got the nod over big man Joel Bolomboy for the Jazz’s final roster spot based on need, according to Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News. O’Neale, who spent the last two seasons in Spain, provides coach Quin Snyder with a defender who can guard multiple spots. “I think positionally, he’s a fit for our group right now,” Snyder told McDonald and other media members. “He’s got instincts defensively. Coupled with the toughness, it makes him a good wing defender.”
  • Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball says he’s good to go for the team’s season opener on Thursday, he told Law Murray of ESPN and the assembled media. Ball injured his ankle during camp and missed the last four preseason games. He practiced in full on Monday.
  • The final year of LaMarcus Aldridge‘s three-year, $72.3MM extension with the Spurs has a $7MM guarantee, Zach Lowe of ESPN tweets. San Antonio came to an agreement with Aldridge on Monday.

Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge Discussing Extension

The Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge are discussing the possibility of a contract extension, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Currently, Aldridge remains under contract for two years, with a guaranteed $21.46MM salary for 2017/18 and a player option worth $22.35MM for 2018/19. If he and the Spurs were to reach an agreement today, it would allow him to opt in for ’18/19 and then tack on up to three more years. In that scenario, an extension could have a starting salary worth up to 120% of his ’18/19 figure.

Although today represents the deadline for contract extensions for veterans with multiple years left on their respective contracts, Aldridge would have until June 30 to work out an extension with the Spurs if he were to turn down his player option. An extension along those lines could be worth up to 120% of the big man’s 2017/18 salary.

Aldridge, 32, saw his production drop off a little in San Antonio last season. His 17.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and .477 FG% were all below his career averages, while his 18.6 PER was his lowest mark since 2009/10. It would be an unusual moment for the Spurs to sign him to an extension unless they’re confident in a bounce-back season and believe they can get him at a discounted rate.

Not counting player options for Aldridge, Danny Green, or Rudy Gay, the Spurs currently only have about $56MM in guaranteed money on their books for the 2018/19 season.

Southwest Notes: Moore, Aldridge, Pensacola

The absence of Rajon Rondo during the first month or so of the regular season will open up more of an opportunity for Pelicans combo guard E’Twaun Moore, William Guillory of The Times-Picayune writes.

Moore, who head coach Alvin Gentry says will probably start the club’s October 18 season opener, averaged a career-best 9.6 points per game for the Pelicans last season.

Back at full health after a 2016/17 campaign in which he nursed turf toe, Moore will look to validate the Pelicans’ decision to ink him to a four-year, $34MM contract last summer.

In limited time with the Pelicans’ starting core, Guillory writes, the group posted an impressive plus-16.4 net rating.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Heading into his third year with the Spurs, big man LaMarcus Aldridge is embracing a larger leadership role, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. “I’m not the rah-rah guy,” Aldridge said. “I think people know that about me from my Portland days. But just trying to make sure guys are in the right spot, trying to teach guys how to play defense and know the principles and help guys stay positive and things like that.
  • The wheels are in motion for the Pelicans to land a G League team, now they’re searching for a city to host the franchise. The current favorite, Chris Reichert of 2 Ways, 10 Days writes, is Pensacola.
  • The Grizzlies will welcome Tony Allen back to the FedExForum this week and both general manager Chris Wallace and owner Robert Pera have released statements about his time with the franchise. In a post on the team’s official site, Pera goes so far as to say that the Grindfather’s jersey will one day hang in the rafters.

Southwest Rumors: Noel, Carmelo, Tucker, Pondexter

Mavs big man Nerlens Noel will likely come off the bench this season behind Dirk Nowitzki, coach Rick Carlisle told Tim MacMahon of ESPN and other media members. Noel started 12 of 22 games after being acquired from the 76ers in February. Carlisle informed Noel and agent Rich Paul of his plans over the weekend, MacMahon adds. “At this point in time, Dirk at the 5 position is probably the best scenario for Dirk and for our team, and I just don’t think that Dirk is a guy that’s going to come off the bench as long as I’m here,” Carlisle said. “So there’s a very good chance that Nerlens will come off the bench.” Noel had a tumultuous summer as a restricted free agent, changing agents and ultimately signing Dallas’ qualifying offer of $4.1MM when he didn’t get the contract offers he expected. Noel will an unrestricted free agent next summer.

In other developments around the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets were never close to acquiring Carmelo Anthony before he was traded to the Thunder, according to a Houston Chronicle report. GM Daryl Morey said he wasn’t disappointed that he failed to work out something with the Knicks, the report adds. “We were involved in rumors in a situation he was very interested in coming here,” he said. “We had some interest if we could maybe work it out, but never did.”
  • Small forward P.J. Tucker will miss some of training camp because of a hamstring injury, according to another Chronicle report. Tucker suffered the injury during a recent workout but it’s not considered a major issue, the report adds. Tucker signed a four-year contract with the Rockets as a free agent this summer.
  • Former Pelicans forward Quincy Pondexter contracted a life-threatening infection while awaiting a third surgery on his problematic knee in January, he told Chris Haynes of ESPN. He required surgery to flush out the infection and spent a month in the hospital after the knee operation, Haynes continues. Pondexter was then dealt to the Bulls earlier this month. “It was a shock,” Pondexter told Haynes. “I was tired of letting the organization and fans down the last two years, and I wanted to do my best to help the Pelicans return to the playoffs. It was definitely a gut punch.” He also said he was never fined or missed an appointment during his knee rehab in 2015, refuted what coach Alvin Gentry claimed at the time.
  • Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge shrugged off the trade rumors this summer and came to camp with something to prove, Melissa Rohlin of the San Antonio Express-News reports. “I’m a guy who is never satisfied,” he told Rohlin. “I’m definitely going to show that I can play my game and I’m still good.”

Weekly Mailbag: 9/11/17 – 9/17/17

We have an opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap or the NBA draft? Drop us a line at HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com.

Are the Spurs keeping LaMarcus Aldridge? Any trade rumors? — ROBZ, via Twitter 

The rumors of an Aldridge deal heated up around the draft, when San Antonio reportedly had discussions with at least three teams about taking on the veteran big man. The Spurs were hoping to acquire a top five pick and trim salary to make a run at Chris Paul or another elite free agent, so obviously those motivations no longer exist. There have been persistent rumors that Aldridge is unhappy in San Antonio and would prefer a larger role in the offense like he had in Portland, so don’t count on him finishing his career with the Spurs. However, he will make nearly $21.5MM this year and has a player option worth more than $22.3MM for 2018/19, so any deal would require a major financial commitment. San Antonio may see how the season plays out, then revisit trade scenarios closer to the February deadline.

Do you think Carmelo Anthony will stay put for the whole season as he has reached out to his Knicks teamates in preparation for start of the season? Besides, he controls his situation as he has a no-trade clause in his contract and Houston hasn’t budged for his trade request. — Greg Dizon

It has been a game of chicken all summer with the Rockets, Knicks and Anthony, and we’re coming up on an important date as training camps open next week. The parties are as entrenched as ever, with Anthony determined to go to Houston, the Knicks wanting more than Ryan Anderson in return and the Rockets sticking by their offer with no luck in finding another team to make the deal work. Knicks management seems willing to bring Anthony into camp and hold onto him until a favorable offer emerges. We’ll see how that plays out, but New York is rebuilding and doesn’t want to be stuck with Anthony’s nearly $28MM salary for 2018/19. Every day he spends with the Knicks carries a risk of injury that would make that unavoidable.

Will Nikola Mirotic be back in Chicago? — Ernesto, via Twitter

Mirotic is among the latest victims to be stuck in restricted free agent limbo, and it looks like it might carry into the season, just as it did for Donatas Motiejunas last year. Mirotic skipped EuroBasket this year to concentrate on working out, and recently tweeted a photo of himself with 22 pounds of extra muscle. Mirotic was inconsistent during his three years in Chicago and was briefly relegated to the bench last season, so it’s not clear if the rebuilding Bulls even want him back. This will probably drag out until somebody makes him an offer; then the Bulls will have to decide if it’s worth matching.

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