LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs have decided to part ways. So far, it seems like a buyout is not in the equation, which means San Antonio will be listening to offers on the veteran big man.
There are two big issues when trying to find good deals for Aldridge. First, he’s fallen off defensively to the point where he might not be a viable starter. Second, he’s paid as a star when he’s clearly not one anymore. The two problems combined make it unrealistic for San Antonio to get a truly good haul for the former All-Star
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some trades that might actually be realistic.
The likely trade: Aldridge to Miami for expiring contracts
The Miami Heat have been rumored to be interested in several Spurs veterans for months, so it’s not a surprise to see them mentioned as one of the teams that is trying to trade for Aldridge. There has been little information as to what that potential transaction would look like, but in all likelihood it would consist in an exchange of expiring deals.
The Heat get: LaMarcus Aldridge.
Spurs get: Kelly Olynyk, Meyers Leonard, 2022 second round pick (via Philadelphia or Denver)
The Heat need an upgrade at the big men positions, as they are currently relying on Olynyk and the still raw KZ Okpala and Precious Achiuwa to round out their rotation around Bam Adebayo. Aldridge could potentially be that upgrade. He’s shooting the three better than Olynyk, and even at his advance age, he can still create his own shot in the post and be a dependable pick-and-pop option from mid-range. The biggest issue Aldridge has at this point is his defense, but he’d be taking over the minutes currently going to Olynyk, who is just as big of a liability.
For the Spurs, the trade would be all about making sure Aldridge lands in a good situation while getting a viable replacement. As a starter, the role he’s recently played in Miami, Olynyk is not good enough. As a backup for Jakob Poeltl, he could be useful. By making this trade San Antonio would retain some big man depth while not adding salary for next season and preserving cap flexibility.
Trading Aldridge essentially straight up for Olynyk, since the disgraced Meyers Leonard would never even join the team and the pick would be low, is not an exciting prospect, but it could be a way to find a quick end to the situation. Ideally the Spurs would also get at least one of the Heat’s young players, but even if Pat Riley refuses to include one, the deal could make sense if the goal is to get a big in return without adding salary.
The risky trade: The Spurs take a chance on Marvin Bagley III
The Sacramento Kings have reportedly made the former No. 2 overall pick available in trade talks, but have not received a lot of interest from teams around the league. The Spurs could decide to use Aldridge and one other piece to add more frontcourt talent to their young core.
The Spurs get: Marvin Bagley III, Cory Joseph, Jabari Parker.
The Kings get: LaMarcus Aldridge, Lonnie Walker IV, 2021 second round pick, 2023 second round pick.
From the Spurs’ perspective, this move would be all about balancing out their young core. With Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson around, Lonnie Walker’s future with the team is not clear, since there’s an excess of guards and wings. Bagley, on the other hand, would make a young big man rotation that currently only includes Jakob Poeltl and Luka Samanic look a lot more promising.
Would that offer be enough for the Kings? Probably not, but it’s worth a try. Bagley’s father has made it clear that the big man wants out, and if there are not a lot of great options for Sacramento, simply moving on from the mistake made by the previous administration could be worth it for the new front office. They’d get an upgrade at the backup center spot in Aldridge and a much-needed young wing to flank De’Aron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton.
Both teams could be hesitant to pull the trigger here. The Kings could worry about the optics of moving a former top three pick for a veteran on the last year of his contract and a promising but inconsistent wing, especially in a year in which they will likely miss the playoffs. The Spurs would be sending Aldridge to a bad situation and giving up on Walker for a high-maintenance prospect that so far hasn’t panned out. But the move could be worth the risk for both franchises.
The safe trade: Aldridge to the Bulls for Otto Porter
The Chicago Bulls seem interested in moving veteran forward Otto Porter, who is in the last year of his contract. The former Wizard has been riddled with injuries and simply doesn’t seem to fit in Chicago anymore. His gigantic contract makes it tough to deal, which is something he has in common with Aldridge.
The Spurs get: Otto Porter, Daniel Gafford
The Bulls get: LaMarcus Aldridge, Trey Lyles
Similar to the Heat deal, both teams would be essentially exchanging expiring contracts. Gafford and Lyles are only included to keep the Spurs from taking on too much extra salary this season. Luke Kornet could also be an alternative for salary-matching purposes if Chicago refuses to include the 22-year-old Gafford, as long as the Bulls also throw in a future second rounder.
For the Bulls, this is the perfect opportunity to move on from Porter while drastically improving their big man rotation. As flawed as Aldridge is right now, he’s still vastly superior to Kornet, Cristiano Felicio and Gafford. Since the Bulls are right in the playoff bubble, the upgrade would be worth it. Aldridge could also offer some much-needed veteran leadership to an extremely young team while allowing Chicago to preserve a ton of cap space for next season.
For the Spurs, taking a flyer on Porter makes sense, since he gives them another big forward to throw at opponents. For now, he could be insurance in case Gay gets hurt, but also a potentially cheap replacement for Rudy next season if he proves he can still hit threes and defend adequately at the team level. Gafford could also be an interesting prospect to add to the young core, but even if the Bulls prefer to include Kornet, the deal might be worth it to San Antonio. With Luka Samanic looking better, losing Lyles is not a big deal.
Once again, not the most exciting of trades, but one that feels safe for two teams that don’t want to shake things up too much.
What do you think, Spurs fans? Would you be happy with any of those trades? If not, what do you think would be a good deal? Let us know in the comments.