According to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, LaMarcus Aldridge may not finish the season with the Spurs. To most, it seems odd as San Antonio set a franchise record 67 wins last season, and Aldridge was fairly productive providing 18 points and 8.5 rebounds a game during the regular season.
Aldridge was also solid in the playoffs as he provided 22 points and 8.3 rebounds on 52% shooting. Perhaps there may be chemistry issues with the Spurs, but Aldridge’s trade value is currently at its highest. He is an incredibly consistent player, 31 years old, has prior proven leadership experience and can make the right team a contender. So if San Antonio trades, they could get some talented young players in return to build around Kawhi Leonard.
Jackie MacMullan begins to talk about Aldridge at the 50-second mark below.
Although the prospect of acquiring young talent is intriguing, the Spurs’ team salary shows a different perspective. Manu Ginobili got paid $14,000,000 and Pau Gasol just got paid $15,500,000, which are significant investments to make a run at a championship. Pau Gasol is still incredibly serviceable, and Ginobili provides significant support off the bench. These are players who are confident in their ability to make a run at a championship this season. If Aldridge is going to be traded in the middle of the season, the odds of San Antonio winning a ring significantly diminishes. If Aldridge was traded, the three highest paid Spurs players outside of Kawhi Leonard are Pau Gasol, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. An average age of 36.3 and an average salary of $14,648,348. In other words, an outrageous amount of money to pay a bunch of old men for a first round exit in the west. There is also the fact that the offense last season completely revolved around Aldridge and Leonard, which as stated earlier, lead to a franchise record in wins.
A lot of the rumor is dependent on what young talent the Spurs would be able to acquire by trading Aldridge. It is obvious that Golden State is going to be the team to beat again, and it may be time to retool the San Antonio roster around athletic youth such as Dejounte Murray and Kawhi Leonard. An interesting, yet unlikely acquisition would be DeMarcus Cousins, who is only 26 years old. If there is anyone in the league who can change a player as volatile as DeMarcus Cousins, it would be Gregg Popovich. Acquiring young talent is ideal, but it becoming more difficult as teams are more invested in building with their youth, such as the Lakers, Wolves, and Sixers. It’s hard to make an argument trading LaMarcus Aldridge to those teams, as they would only marginally improve for a few years if a trade occurred, rather than create chemistry with their existing roster.
Frankly, it's hard to see a LaMarcus Aldridge trade emerge as of right now. He adapted incredibly well to a new system, and helped win a lot of games to the point it gave the 73-9 Golden State Warriors concern for the first seed. It also doesn't hurt that he’s from Texas, and the fact that he's also going to be in the latest HEB commercials with several key Spurs such as Danny Green, Patty Mills, and Pau Gasol. We also cannot forget that teams are smart enough today to consistently develop their youth rather than trade it all away for a few years of solid performance from an established basketball player. The only way a trade would go down is if a team offered an incredible deal that the Spurs could not refuse, but we will have to wait and see if such a deal will occur.