LaMarcus Aldridge’s days in San Antonio have ended. A Spurs fan takes a look back.
When LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the San Antonio Spurs in July 2015, expectations were high. He joined a squad a year removed from an NBA championship run, and with the main actors from that success still on the roster.
Aldridge would turn thirty years old shortly after signing. He was to be a key factor in keeping the Spurs’ run of excellence intact after the eventual retirement of the Big Three. However, situations change faster than ever in the NBA nowadays, and things shifted swiftly for Aldridge and the Spurs organization in general.
Now he and Spurs management have come to an agreement to find a new team for him. It marks a quiet ending to a hopeful chapter in recent Spurs history.
Aldridge amassed decent numbers over the six seasons he played for San Antonio. In that time he averaged 18.7 points per game, along with 7.5 rebounds per game. His shooting percentage was an acceptable 49.6%. These are solid numbers across the board for an inside player.
As far as his skill set goes, Aldridge has a soft shooting touch and dependable turn-around moves that stretch out to mid range. He has even developed a three point shot over the years, and he can call on that a couple of times a game. He has been a serviceable stretch four for his entire career.
It’s difficult for me as a fan to say anything negative about LaMarcus Aldridge. It’s also difficult for me to give him overwhelming glowing praise. However, that is no fault of his. To use a phrase I’m not fond of, “It is what it is”.
As noted earlier, he was signed in order to form a duo with Kawhi Leonard that would continue the Spurs unprecedented run of success. We know how that turned out.
In Aldridge’s first season in San Antonio, the Spurs finished the regular season with 67 victories and 15 losses. Only the Golden State Warriors had a better record at 73-9.The Oklahoma City Thunder eliminated the Spurs in the second round that season, and then things started to change.
Nobody could have foreseen it at the time. San Antonio seemed to be a quiet, serious place to work and be successful. Guys showed up, played, and won. I still don’t understand the nuance of whatever happened with Kawhi Leonard, but it generated serious drama, which is something San Antonio had escaped for decades.
The Leonard trade and its aftermath left Aldridge high and dry. And while he put up consistent numbers, the results weren’t there as the team adjusted to a different approach. Aldridge was and is a professional. I’ll always give him credit for that, but obtaining higher results were beyond what he had to offer. Like I said, “It is what it is”.
The league changed dramatically, and so did the Spurs. I’m sure Aldridge saw the writing on the wall recently, as younger players like Luka Samanic and Trey Lyles were getting minutes that used to be his. The youth movement is well underway and he knows it. I appreciate the organization accommodating him because I think he’s earned it.
Aldridge is in the last year of his contract and is making $24 million. It’s not clear who would want to pick that up. I think a buyout would be the most likely move, and I think it’s clear that the Spurs will not be getting anything of note in return. The trade scenarios I’ve seen are underwhelming to say the least.
I believe his skill set is somewhat outdated, but he might be able to help a team by coming off the bench. I could envision teams like Denver or Philadelphia (especially after last night’s injury scare with Joel Embiid) being able to give him minutes to spell their respective big men.
It’s always a downer to see people go. We fans attach ourselves to players and their achievements. LaMarcus Aldridge gave the Spurs some of the best years of his career and we will always value that. We wish things could have been different but that’s the way the ball bounces, as they say.
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