Maybe the biggest name in free agency this summer (unless others will opt out from their current deals) is LaMarcus Aldridge. The closer we get to decision time, it’s looks likelier that he’ll play for either the San Antonio Spurs or the Dallas Mavericks then stay with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Financially, it actually makes sense. What?! Yes. Despite the Blazers being able to offer more money to Aldridge through a five-year max contract instead of the four-year deal each one of the other teams can offer him, the fact that there’s no state income tax in Texas makes up for it in terms of total money. There is another matter in Texas with its higher property tax, but that’s enough about economics and finances.
Aldridge, like every other free agent, will balance his decision-making factors according to the money involved, which in the NBA is limited and equal to all teams offering him a contract except for Portland (or a championship contender without that much cap space hoping that a low-ball offer will be enough), the chances of winning a championship which probably matter to him, the personality of his teammates and also a home town issue.
Aldridge played college basketball in Austin. He grew up in Dallas. Despite playing in Oregon for the last nine years and arguably being on his way to becoming the greatest player in franchise history, the combination of a better tax situation, possibly improving his chances of winning the title and playing closer to home and family could be too much to ignore for Aldridge.
The Spurs, especially if they re-sign Duncan and don’t lose Kawhi Leonard, look like the much better team going into next season when compared with the Mavericks. But in Dallas, who tend to lose in free agency battles over big-time players, they’re hoping that the prospect of playing in his hometown is enough to convince him. But Aldridge and Nowitzki on the same team, in the same lineup? Hard to imagine.
Obviously, the new salary cap in 2016 can change everything, especially the length of his next deal, although Aldridge isn’t getting younger and will risk a sudden decline or injury that will hurt him financially if he gambles on making even bigger money a year from now. And who knows, maybe a big market offer – a sign & trade with the Bulls, the team that drafted him, or the terrible New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, will be too much for him to decline.