Another once top tier frontcourt player is available. Should the Suns pursue?
After Blake Griffin went to the Brooklyn Nets, there’s another big name on the market.
The San Antonio Spurs and seven-time NBA All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge have mutually agreed that he will not return to the team, per head coach Gregg Popovich.
Unlike Griffin, Aldridge has not been bought out (yet). The Spurs are trying to trade him and get at least something back. He is on an expiring contract but one that has a $24-million salary on it (that will make it hard to trade him). So, he would be bought out if the deadline passes and he’s still on the roster.
The Phoenix Suns are 24-11, hold the second best record in the entire league and are likely looking to improve, especially if that means keeping the core together.
Who else may be looming?
There does not appear to be a clear cut lead man in the chase, at least at this time.
The arguably most likely destination if he is traded is the Boston Celtics who have a $28.5 million trade exception from the Gordon Hayward sign-and-trade, which they could use to absorb his salary. Even getting a single second-round pick would be better than a buyout for the Spurs.
Reuniting with Damian Lillard in Portland comes to mind. They’ve mentioned it in the form of not so cryptic messages on social media for a while now. The Trail Blazers have so many injuries, especially in the front court, that he could play big minutes right away.
The Heat are another possibility and they may feel they can get the most out of him with the atmosphere in Miami’s locker room.
He could also go to California (Clippers, Lakers or Warriors). Both teams are contenders and could use another big man. Rob Pelinka has not been quiet in showing interest in adding to the frontcourt since star Anthony Davis got injured. Golden State head coach Steve Kerr has shown a lot of praise for him and they have their taxpayer MLE.
Born in Dallas, you would have to think going home and playing for the Mavericks wouldn’t be out of the question either.
If it’s via a trade, it probably isn’t going to happen. However, if he gets to waivers and free agency, the Suns have a really good chance. They are contenders, regardless of whether most people around the league want to acknowledge that or not.
As I stated with Griffin, warm weather is always nice for an aging athlete and Phoenix has been known for its fountain of youth.
The biggest factor in Aldridge choosing the Valley, though, is connections. He has a relationship with both GM James Jones and head coach Monty Williams.
When he left Portland in free agency in the summer of 2015, he nearly chose to come to Phoenix before ultimately going to San Antonio. How crazy would it be if he made it right, became a Sun like he should have then and helps the team in a title run?
Should the Suns be interested? Why?
I would love for him to come to the Valley and I probably have more people that feel the same this time.
Again, a trade probably isn’t happening because the team just doesn’t have the pieces to make that work. However, if he is bought out, the Suns should chase him HARD.
He can play power forward and back up Deandre Ayton at the center spot, offering versatility which is a common thing on the roster. It gives the Suns more size as well as a smart vet. Going back to the Kaminsky comparison, he also provides playmaking (a little less but still) and spacing (1.3 three-pointers on 36 percent accuracy this season). He can make intelligent reads and act quickly, going with the flow of how Phoenix likes to play.
Injuries are a concern as they are with any older player but unlike Griffin, he was never a constantly above the rim type of guy (at least not on that level) and for that reason, he has a higher chance of having more left in the tank.
He is only scoring 13.7 points (the fewest since his rookie season) and 4.5 rebounds (a career-low) in 25.9 minutes per game. He’s OLD in basketball age (soon to be 36) and has physically lost too much to be able to defend effectively in space.
However, again, one team’s “trash” is another team’s treasure. It’s been seen many times that a declining veteran can catch on the right team and contribute to winning basketball.
On the defensive end, it’s not as bad as may be stated. No, he isn’t going to be a fly swatter at the rim, but he is averaging 0.9 blocks which shows he is at least putting forth the effort. Also, the Suns have the third best defensive rating in the NBA and can help cover for him there, especially when he’s next to Ayton.
Yes or No
If you ask me, the Suns should definitely take a chance and go after LaMarcus Aldridge. He was an All-Star two seasons ago, posting 21.3 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. If he can be even a fraction of that, it would really help the team. At the worst, he could probably help DA lock in and help with his awareness and footing.
What do you say, Suns fans?
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