As expected, Portland Trail Blazers free agent LaMarcus Aldridge is meeting with the San Antonio Spurs today. In advance of that meeting, the Spurs have made a couple of telling moves that may indicate that an Aldridge signing is imminent.
The most anticipated and indicative is trading center Tiago Splitter to the Atlanta Hawks.
The San Antonio Spurs have traded center Tiago Splitter to the Atlanta Hawks, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2015
The Spurs and Danny Green also agreed to a discounted deal.
Sources: Danny Green has agreed to a 4 year, $45 million deal with the Spurs— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2015
The Splitter trade was necessary in order to clear cap room for an appropriate offer to Aldridge. Retaining Green was widely considered the thorniest problem the Spurs faced in keeping their roster coherent enough to make an Aldridge acquisition fly. The Spurs can now point to Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Green taking lesser salaries in order to bring the All-Star forward on board, with incumbent stars Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker solidifying the lineup around him.
These moves also show San Antonio's credibility with their players, which likely extends to Aldridge as well. Though Aldridge met with the Los Angeles Lakers last night, he is rumored to prefer the Spurs above all other teams. Initial positive reports of the Lakers meeting have given way to skepticism.
Lakers didn't make strong impression in Aldridge meeting, sources say. Spurs can close on him. LMA expected to make decision fairly soon.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2015
Grantland's Zach Lowe tweets that the cumulative effect has led some GM's to believe that Aldridge's decision has been made.
Some rival execs beginning to operate under assumption LMA to Spurs is happening. Dallas considered frontrunner for Wes Matthews.— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) July 1, 2015
The Blazers, meanwhile, are in hot pursuit of Detroit Pistons big man Greg Monroe, potentially as Aldridge's replacement. As we detailed last night, their agreement to sign Al-Farouq Aminu will leave them without enough cap space to re-sign Aldridge and add a second max-level player unless one of the two takes a discount or unless Portland trades one of the players they just acquired, receiving no salary in return.
Updates: New Spurs resign-ee Danny Green tweeted his support for Aldridge (since deleted):
Now all we need is the one last piece and it could get interesting lol...@aldridge_12— Danny Green (@DGreen_14) July 1, 2015
And Adrian Wojnarowski reports on the reception after the Aldridge/Spurs meet-up.
Sources: Spurs made a powerful presentation to Aldridge by keeping it simple today. They did nothing to change belief they're frontrunners.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2015
Source says @aldridge_12 had very positive feelings about his meeting with the Spurs. He really liked their presentation— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 1, 2015