What a few days it's been. First Chris Paul teams up with James Harden in Houston to form a backcourt ready to rival Golden State’s, then Paul George is traded to OKC to go play with Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry just signed that largest contract in NBA history; a $201 million deal.
Big names are on the move and record-breaking contracts are being signed, but we are far from done. The trade rumor machine keeps on turning, keeping us on our toes until the next name comes along.
One name that has been on people's’ lips for a while now is Aldridge. LaMarcus although still an effective player has shown time and time again that he isn’t a big game player. When Kawhi Leonard went down in game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, the Spurs next best player was Aldridge. In order to have a chance to win he needed to perform, but he averaged a measly 15.5 and 5.8 rebounds on 41.3% from the field.
Gregg Popovich is an extremely tough man to please; he’s the best coach in the world who demands nothing but excellence from his players, especially when it matters most. The Spurs are now Kawhi’s team, they form their offense and defense around him and with Aldridge aging and unable to perform I expect him to be on the move very soon.
Here are my top three trade destinations for LaMarcus Aldridge.
3. Detroit Pistons
After an exciting 2015/16 season which saw Andre Drummond earn his first All-Star selection and the Pistons making their first playoff appearance since 2009, Detroit has really gone backward.
They had 6 players averaging between 16 and 10 points a game last season which sounds like they have a balanced offense, but really they have no leader. There is no focal point of their team like LeBron James is for the Cavs and it’s really hurting them. Drummond is the best player on that team but he hasn’t developed enough offensively yet to take on the role of Detroit’s number one guy.
LaMarcus Aldridge can fix that.
Aldridge has the skills and experience to be the number one guy like he was in Portland for 5-6 years. He also provides floor-spacing as a stretch 4/5 which is something Detroit really needs as they ranked 28th in team 3pt percentage last year.
2. Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis have to do something soon, they are just so boring to watch and they are stuck in the bottom half of the top 8 in the Western Conference. They aren’t going to make any noise in the playoffs and they aren’t getting any good draft picks.
They have to shake things up soon and this is how they do it.
Aldridge and Jonathon Simmons head to Memphis, Marc Gasol goes to San Antonio. Aldridge is a more athletic partner to run with Mike Conley and they get an exciting prospect in Simmons who turned some heads against the Warriors averaging 15 points a game in the absence of Leonard.
San Antonio would love this trade because Pop loves bigs than can pass and Gasol might just be the best of the bunch.
1. Portland Trail Blazers
By far the biggest rumor regarding Aldridge is for him to return to Portland to team up with Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Portland has an incredible scoring backcourt that can shoot the lights out, it just needs a big man to balance things out.
When Aldridge was with Lillard before the Blazers had one of the best offenses in the league which was based on the duo of Lillard and Aldridge. They ran the pick and roll to perfection and would do the same again this time round.
The Blazers do have an up and coming big in Jusuf Nurkic who averaged 15 and 10 before he got injured, but Aldridge is a proven commodity with a playing style that suits the fast pace that Portland wants to go at. Trading Aldridge for Nurkic and Evan Turner would see the Blazers get their star back and give the Spurs a talented young big and a good passing forward in Turner who can keep that team-first spirit alive and well in Texas.