The biggest free agent this offseason was LaMarcus Aldridge, who left the Portland Trail Blazers (not because of Damian Lillard), chose to sign with the San Antonio Spurs while leaving teams like the Los Angeles Lakers disappointed and not even meeting with the New York Knicks.
After the free agency period is pretty much over and the same can be said for summer league, it seems there’s suddenly time for players to open up about their decisions, and the same goes for Aldridge.
Aldridge doesn’t have a problem with Lillard, or doesn’t say he does. There were rumors of Aldridge not feeling comfortable with Lillard getting too much attention, but he did choose the Spurs, a franchise that doesn’t exactly heavily promote its own players like lets say the Houston Rockets do with James Harden, which means attention isn’t all that important to him.
We have no issue with each other, no animosity. We got along very well with each other during the season. I thought we played well off of each other. All of that stuff is just rumors, as I’ve dealt with before. Me leaving didn’t have to do with any of that. It was me feeling like being close to home, by my family, being able to see them more and just a change of scenery. I had been in Portland for nine years. I had been through a couple of rebuilds, so it was just time to try something new. It wasn’t anything toward Damian or the organization.
Players never say why they really left. This wasn’t just about going home to Texas, it has to be more. The Blazers would have landed Aldridge more money and given him an option on the fifth year. But maybe he didn’t see himself winning a championship there, although him staying would have kept Matthews and Lopez. Fully healthy that team is a threat in the West, but the Spurs opportunity was too difficult to turn down. Aldridge didn’t say so, but he already decided to leave before the season even began.
A team that Aldridge surprisingly did consider (he seemed to give everyone a proper opportunity) but ended up not meeting them is the New York Knicks. It didn’t make sense Aldridge joined them anyway, but turns out he wasn’t simply turning them down for being terrible. He turned them down because they saw him as a center, and Aldridge doesn’t want to play near the rim, or at least not so much.
They told me they wanted me to play strictly the five (center). So, they didn’t want to meet with me. People say it was me but it was both parties agreeing we shouldn’t meet.
And the Los Angeles Lakers? What was the deal with the two meetings? After the first meeting, rumors leaked about how bad it went. About Kobe Bryant not saying the right things, and the organization in general doing a bad job in talking things that aren’t basketball, but about off-court opportunities for Aldridge, things he wasn’t interested in. Maybe Aldridge giving them a second meeting showed how intriguing the option of playing for them was.
With the Lakers, it wasn’t anything crazy. It was just the meeting didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, so I did another one. People blew it out of proportion about things happening in the meeting. That wasn’t correct. It just didn’t go as good as I wanted it to so I had one more.