The Summer of a Million LaMarcus Aldridge Scenarios continues as Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk picks up a Marc J Spears rumor shared on Portland columnist John Canzano's radio show that has Aldridge heading to the L.A. Clippers in a sign-and-trade deal for Blake Griffin. Said Spears:
Obviously, there's a connection there with the GM. And you wonder, if LaMarcus is interested in the Clippers, playing with Chris Paul. Could Neil Olshey get his old superstar with the Clippers in Portland?
I think you get to a point where - Neil is smart. You've got to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with LaMarcus and say, "Hey, do you really want to be here or do you think you want to go. Because f you really want to go, help us - the same way Steve Nash helped the Suns. Don't just walk away. Try to help out Portland in the process."
Feldman opines further:
But why would the Clippers deal Griffin in an Aldridge sign-and-trade? Griffin is better and younger than Aldridge and would be paid less if Aldridge signs a max contract this summer.
And why would Griffin consent? He's under contract without a no-trade clause, so he wouldn't have any formal power to block a trade. But his stature gives him a voice in this process, and it's difficult to see him wanting to leave a bigger market and better team, especially given all his endorsements.
Feldman is right. The idea is far-fetched. It's almost as if media outlets are playing the old "telephone" game now, whispering from one to the next around the circle.
"LaMarcus Aldridge is a free agent."
"LaMarcus Aldridge is a free agent and the Blazers need to replace him at power forward."
"Aldridge is a free agent and the Blazers are getting Kevin Love to replace him."
"Aldridge' is a free agent and they'd Love to replace him with Blake Griffin."
"Purple monkey peanut butter!"
1. Blake Griffin is not an appreciably better player than LaMarcus Aldridge. They're pretty much equal with each having advantages depending on what area of the game you're looking at. Griffin is 3 years younger, however.
2. The key facet of any sign-and-trade deal is that Aldridge would have to agree to it. That's what "unrestricted free agent" means...he can go anywhere. If he's felt under-appreciated (3rd banana to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, 2nd banana to Damian Lillard in terms of appreciation and acclaim) and under-paid (no max contract yet) there'd be little incentive for him to "help out the team" from the goodness of his heart. It's not impossible that a sign-and-trade could happen, but if it's not on the radar in the first place, the Blazers have zero leverage to turn Aldridge in a different direction.
3. As mentioned in the article, Griffin fits well with the Clippers. They're doing well enough with him as their power forward and he certainly brings more public attention to the team than Aldridge would. Issues of better or worse aside, they wouldn't be likely to move him. Like Aldridge, they're under zero pressure to do so, especially if the main motivation is being kind to Portland.
In short, three parties would need to agree to this deal and only one party has any clear reason to want it.
4. Though Griffin has become more of a perimeter player, he doesn't score in isolation out there the same way Aldridge does. The Blazers would be getting as much talent as they could possibly expect in return for Aldridge in that situation, but that doesn't mean Griffin would fit. Portland would have to change their offensive approach with Griffin on board. This isn't a bad thing. They'll have to change if Aldridge leaves anyway, as there's maybe one player in the league they can get their hands on who could fill his role 1-for-1. But this isn't an "all our problems are solved" move for the Blazers.
With this kind of move being exceedingly rare, with no motivation for it to happen, and with it not being a guaranteed fix for either team, it probably belongs on the far end of the probability spectrum. Having it floating around out there is good for Portland in that it establishes a high baseline for their options. Being associated with names like Blake Griffin and Kevin Love is never bad. But those kind of moves are a billion times easier to mention than to execute.