San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge has found himself at the center of several trade rumors.
Jabari Young of MySA wrote earlier today that league sources told him the Spurs are open to the idea of trading Aldridge. Young has reported heavily on Aldridge for several seasons, dating back to the all-star forward’s time with the Blazers.
Young’s report echoed a previous story from ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan. In an interview with CSN New England this morning, MacMullan, citing sources, said that Aldridge may not finish the year in San Antonio. “That experiment hasn’t quite worked out like they had hoped,” said MacMullan.
Here’s the full video:
MacMullan’s comments echo speculation from ESPN’s Zach Lowe. In a column published last week, Lowe wrote that he expects Aldridge’s name to appear in trade talks if the Spurs perform below expectations to start the season.
The Spurs have denied the validity of the Aldridge trade rumors. “Those within the Spurs refuted the suggestion, saying no talks have occurred with any team,” wrote Young. J.R. Wilco, Editor of Blazer’s Edge’s sister site Pounding the Rock, also reports that the Spurs have denied the report.
Aldridge averaged 30.6 minutes, 18.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.5 assists last season. All of his per game statistics declined significantly compared to his recent seasons with the Blazers.
As a team, results were similarly mixed for the Spurs. They finished the regular season with 67 wins but were upset in the second round of the NBA playoffs by the Oklahoma City Thunder.
While this Aldridge rumor is provocative, fans may be wise to hold off on firing up the trade machine. Under Head Coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs have been the most stable franchise in the NBA for more than 20 years, and it would be unprecedented for a star player to demand to be moved. Aldridge’s decline in production was expected by analysts as he was integrated into the Spurs’ more egalitarian system, and presumably discussed before he signed in San Antonio.
MacMullan’s seemingly joking comment that she would want no part of Aldridge in Boston is ominous, but should be tempered with acknowledgement that the Aldridge in San Antonio “experiment” is only one season old. Even if Aldridge and the Spurs are frustrated with each other, they have time to mend the relationship.
On the other hand, Aldridge was painted as a particularly mercurial and finicky personality on his way out of Portland. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that he has had trouble adjusting to a system that does not revolve around his skillset and has required him to subtly alter his playing style.
As Young noted, Aldridge also played significant minutes at center last season, a position he has publicly admitted he dislikes playing. It’s unclear how the retirement of Tim Duncan and acquisition of Pau Gasol will affect Aldridge’s role with the Spurs going forward.
If the Spurs do stumble coming out of the blocks this season, it may hasten the spread of any lurking tension between Aldridge and the rest of the organization.