If LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t going back to the Portland Trail Blazers, it seems that the previous favorites to land him, the San Antonio Spurs, aren’t alone anymore, joined by the Houston Rockets and even the Phoenix Suns in the race to try and sign him.
Aldridge will finish up meeting the 7 teams he had planned and then might do another round of meetings, but at the moment, seems to be finding it hard to decide between three teams: Suns, Spurs and Rockets. The Lakers didn’t impress him, and it seems like the Knicks, Raptors and Mavericks aren’t serious contenders for him, although one might have said that about the Suns 24 hours ago.
What changed? Tyson Chandler is one thing. The Suns signed the veteran center on a four-year, $52 million deal. This gives them another center besides Alex Len, a better one. While Chandler isn’t an offensive beast, he did average 10.3 points per game last season for the Mavericks, and should be able to drastically improve the Suns’ defense. More importantly, at the moment at least, involving him in the pitch might help them land Aldridge.
Why? The combination of solid centers all of a sudden and perimeter talent. The Suns have Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe in the backcourt (don’t want to trade him) and both he and Chandler sat in on the meeting with Aldridge. And not having to play center next season seems to be important to Aldridge, but are the Suns in a better position to win than the Blazers?
The San Antonio Spurs seemed like favorites to land him, but Aldridge possibly having to play at the ‘5’ position and a lot next season isn’t very appealing to him. The Spurs are still strong in the race, but it’s no longer between them and the Lakers or Blazers. The Suns are now a real factor in this, and so are the Rockets.
The Rockets, despite a lot of problems they’ve been having over the years, continue to look very appealing in free agency to big names. James Harden, Dwight Howard, and the analytics approach, which seemed to make a good impression on Aldridge. When comparing it to the Lakers pitch, Aldridge to to hear about basketball and how he might fit on the team, instead of advertising opportunities.
And what about the Blazers? If a team’s assistant coach is any indication, he’s not going back to Portland. However, the video of him talking about it is a few days old, so maybe it’s not that close to reality as it is right now.