The LaMarcus Aldridge free agent saga continues.
This morning the San Antonio Spurs did everything necessary to bring Aldridge into the fold and he was said to be mightily impressed.
This afternoon the Portland Trail Blazers made a public push-back, revealing their grand plan to pair Aldridge with Detroit free agent Greg Monroe if only LaMarcus would return.
Now the Phoenix Suns have emerged from the locker room to turn this into a triple-threat match.
Marc Stein of ESPN tweets:
Says once source close to the talks: Phoenix has moved into a contending position alongside San Antonio in the LaMarcus Aldridge Sweepstakes— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2015
The Suns began their campaign by signing free agent center Tyson Chandler, long known as one of the best defensive players in the league.
Tyson Chandler's deal with Suns is four years, $52 million, league source says. Phoenix hopes that bolsters its LaMarcus Aldridge pursuit.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 1, 2015
They sent a huge contingent to meet with the All-Star forward, including a former teammate, now turned coach, whom Aldridge respects.
Suns met Aldridge with Robert Sarver, Lon Babby, Ryan McDonough, Jeff Hornacek, Earl Watson, Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe & Brandon Knight.— Paul Coro (@paulcoro) July 1, 2015
For Suns, wise move bringing new assistant Earl Watson to Aldridge meeting. Close with LMA, highly-respected. Suns made good impression.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2015
The meeting went well.
The Suns' two-hour meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge has ended. Aldridge was "very engaged," source said. Phoenix feels it's still in mix.— Ken Berger (@KBergCBS) July 1, 2015
The only remaining issue, besides gaining Aldridge's assent, is clearing enough cap space to make a deal work. Clearing center Brandan Wright off the ledger was one step.
Free agent forward Brandan Wright has agreed to a three-year, nearly $18M deal with the Memphis Grizzlies, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2015
They'll need others. One intriguing possibility would be finding a taker for Eric Bledsoe. The Blazers may know someone who'd be interested...
As one source sagely explains: Suns certainly have player to appeal to PORT in sign-and-trade if LaMarcus Aldridge chooses PHX: Eric Bledsoe— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 1, 2015
If the Suns do manage to unload Bledsoe, through sign and trade or an imbalanced cap exchange with a team carrying free cap space, they'd be able to make Aldridge an offer.
Some media doubt Phoenix's ascension.
I've been told LaMarcus Aldridge is not going to Phoenix.— David Pick (@IAmDPick) July 1, 2015
But Aldridge has not announced for or against any given team as of yet. At minimum he is scheduled to meet with the Knicks. We may have to wait until tomorrow before the field gets narrower than three.
Update: Apparently momentum remains strong.
Sources: Suns have legitimately closed the gap in pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge. Tyson Chandler, perimeter talent. They're a real factor.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2015