Spurs Title Contenders Again After Landing LaMarcus Aldridge
Even after getting knocked out of the first round of the NBA playoffs last year, the San Antonio Spurs were slated to enter the 2015-16 NBA season with 7/1 odds to win it all.
Their odds just got a little better.
Per reports, former Portland Trail Blazers star power forward has latched on with the Spurs, agreeing to a massive four-year, $80 million deal.
Aldridge had reportedly informed the Blazers ahead of free agency that he probably wouldn’t be back, while the star big man was said to be considering multiple offers heading into the Fourth of July weekend. While San Antonio was always said to be the clear front-runner, the Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers were all involved in LaMarcus Aldridge rumors at some point this summer. Ridge chose his team early, picking the Spurs over the Phoenix Suns and the other suitors.
As big as the news of the Spurs landing Aldridge is (their last huge free agency signing was Bruce Bowen, after all), the real question is what kind of an impact Ridge will have on a championship contender that couldn’t get out of round one a year ago.
The short answer is: pretty big. Ridge carried the Blazers to one of their best seasons in some time last year, proving his warrior-like capabilities by playing through a severe thumb injury. In San Antonio, Aldridge figures to take on Tim Duncan’s old role, with Duncan likely sliding over to play more center.
The team has already done a terrific job shoring up their depth, as they re-signed Kawhi Leonard to a huge, long-term contract and also held onto starting shooting guard Danny Green. With Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Duncan all also set to return, the Spurs (now with Ridge in tow) could be boasting one of the scariest rosters in the entire league.
There is the slight question of depth at center, as Aron Baynes signed with the Detroit Pistons and Tiago Splitter was traded to the Atlanta Hawks to free up room for Ridge. However, the Spurs appear to be attracting quality depth they’ll be able to use right away at the four and five, as both Carlos Boozer and David West are reportedly very interesting in taking their talents to Texas. One of those two (or someone else) will pair with versatile big man Boris Diaw to give the Spurs a fairly stacked interior lineup.
Boozer and West surely won’t be the only veterans looking to latch on with San Antonio, who will surely be able to pick up a few more key bench pieces now that they have solidified both the wing and the post with the Leonard/Ridge signings.
As huge as this move is for the Spurs this coming season, it’s probably an even bigger move for the future. Duncan is set to return for 1-2 more years, and with Ridge in place, San Antonio can now groom his replacement for years to come. Given the way the Spurs successfully manage minutes and extend player longevity, Aldridge could be looking at a long, fruitful career with San Antonio.
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