The biggest name in free agency is LaMarcus Aldridge. He might end up staying with the Portland Trail Blazers, but first he’ll meet with the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors and the New York Knicks.
That’s quite a busy schedule for the veteran power forward, who has played his entire career for the Blazers (since 2006). He was actually selected by the Bulls in the 2006 draft, but they traded him to Portland for Tyrus Thomas, which turned out to be a big mistake, although Aldridge needed one year before breaking out and showing how good he really is.
He’s been an All-Star these last four years and averaged a career high 23.4 points per game last season. He’s averaging at least 23 points and 10 rebounds per game over the last two seasons, helping the Blazers make the playoffs for the first time since Brandon Roy fell apart which led to his retirement, and the Blazers needing a few years to reshuffle and bounce back from that loss.
Aldridge isn’t going to meet with the Blazers. He knows what they have to offer. Five years, maximum deal. He’s going to get a maximum offer from the seven teams he’s going to meet with. The Dallas Mavericks looked like the early interest, but Aldridge has since moved on to other things. Over the last couple of days both the Raptors and the Rockets have suddenly emerged as more serious contenders than before. The Raptors can offer him the max. The Rockets? They’ll need to make trades.
But the favorites remains the Lakers, who get to meet with him first, pretty much the moment that free agency begins. There are a few reporting that he’s most intrigued by their offer and prospect, somehow alluding to the Lakers being back.
But there have been stronger voices suggesting it’s between staying in Portland and joining the Spurs. There’s even been a report about Aldridge looking for houses in San Antonio. The Spurs are recruiting him with Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan in on the meetings. The Spurs have been the strongest indication for the last couple of weeks, and the most consistent name in the rumor mill when it comes to Aldridge.
He does have a good thing going for him, and the Blazers aren’t that far away from being a nice team that makes the playoffs to a serious championship contender. They weren’t that far away from it last season until Wesley Matthews was injured. He also has the chance of legendary status at Portland if he stays along for the ride and retires there. But his connection to the city has always been shaky according to the media. Maybe the other options he has are simply too hard to resist.