The Spurs may lack experience in the free-agency, but they developed a great game-plan (perhaps as simple as pointing to the results they've seen and the reputation they've garnered over the past 25 years,) got a good night's sleep and aced the test -- even if they had to wait longer than they thought for the results to come back.
According to a tweet from Aldridge's official account, the Spurs and Aldridge have come to an agreement.
I'm happy to say I'm going home to Texas and will be a Spur!! I'm excited to join the team and be close to my family and friends.— Lamarcus Aldridge (@aldridge_12) July 4, 2015
There were some twists and turns along the way to the signing. First, the Spurs sent their big guns (R.C. Buford, Popovich, Duncan, Parker, Leonard) to Los Angeles to meet with LaMarcus Aldridge, but they weren't able to convince the highly sought-after free-agent to commit to joining the Spurs family immediately. It might have been unnecessary, but perhaps it was the second trip to L.A. that Gregg Popovich made on Friday afternoon that did the trick. Whatever it was, LMA is coming to the River City and that is sure to put a smile on Spurs fans' faces everywhere.
It didn't take long for the Spurs to lockup the premier defensive wing-duo in the league. Not only did they secure the services of Kawhi Leonard with a deal (5 years/$90M) that will be a steal with the huge cap jump we'll see next summer, but they came to an agreement with his buddy on the wing, Danny Green, at a fantastic value for the Spurs at 4-years/$45M. For perspective on the money that Danny left on the table, DeMarre Carroll just signed a 4-year $60M deal. It's not a stretch to say that Danny, as perhaps the premiere "3-and-D" player on the market, could have left $20M dollars on the table to stay with the Spurs.
After signing Green, the Spurs quickly moved Tiago Splitter to the Hawks to clear the cap space to sign Aldridge, who averaged 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game last season with the Blazers.
Early on Wednesday it looked like LMA's signing would come quickly, with Danny Green's resigning and the Tiago Splitter trade happening within 10 minutes of each other early into the first day of free-agency. Instead there was a day of rumors and speculation, including that the Lakers' meeting with Aldridge went "very well," followed by the news that the Suns, who picked up Tyson Chandler, had pulled even with the Spurs for the services of the power forward. At that point it was unclear that the Spurs would pull off the signing even as they were repeatedly named the favorites in the Aldridge sweepstakes. The Lakers rumor was pretty quickly struck down by reports that Aldridge was not impressed by their presentation, but the Suns rumor gained momentum with NBA insider, Adrian Wojnarowski, reporting that the Suns had become legitimate suitors. Then we heard that Aldridge would be making his decision after meeting with the Knicks. Cue the "ughs" from the Spurs faithful.
Then on Thursday he canceled his meeting with the Knicks, met with the Lakers a second time and met with Damian Lillard. Reports also told fans not to rule out a return to Portland. On Friday he had lunch with Pop, Ime Udoka and Sean Marks.
In the end, LaMarcus looks to have valued immediate and future contention over the Suns' vision for a possible future or the extra money that Portland offered. He chose a franchise with championship pedigree and a culture that has bred not just loyalty, but a genuine desire among their players to stay with the team (see Danny) over the years. One has to think that the way that the Spurs have conducted their business in the Duncan/Popovich/Buford/Holt era - shooting straight with their talk, cultivating a true family atmosphere, keeping everything in-house, managing minutes and winning year after year with a drama-free narrative - played a role in bringing in the offseason's most coveted target.
It appears that the starting lineup for the Spurs in 2015-16 will be Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Tony Parker. The Spurs still have to fill in the rest of a now top-heavy roster, but the future looks really bright for the Silver and Black.
Adridge was clearly the team's most desired free-agent, after resigning Kawhi Leonard, and the Spurs pulled off what they set out to accomplish with the agreement. Fans, league executives and the media-at-large can do nothing but shake their heads as the Spurs somehow continue to get their players to resign for significantly less than their market value. In this case, Danny and Tim left plenty on the table to keep the Spurs in contention for the near future. There's certainly something to be said for the way the Spurs have established a culture of monetary sacrifice for the greater good of the team. I don't know if there are chickens being sacrificed or some unknown-to-us hoodoo going on, but I do know that as fans of the Silver and Black we're a lucky, spoiled bunch of basketball fans. And it doesn't look like that will change anytime soon.
Welcome to the Spurs family, LaMarcus! You're going to love it here.
Dirty details: We don't know what Tim is going to sign for, other than knowing it's going to be well below what he's worth. Oh, and there's still the question of Manu Ginobili. Stay tuned as we'll bring you the latest.
Spurs are aggressively pursuing free agent David West with a veteran minimum offer now, sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 4, 2015