In the summer of 2015, LaMarcus Aldridge decided to sign with the San Antonio Spurs as one of the most highly-coveted free agents on the market.
Then a four-time All-Star who had spent the first nine years of his NBA career with the Portland Trail Blazers, Aldridge was on a clear trajectory towards the Hall of Fame, regarded as one of the best all-around power forwards in the sport.
In his first season with the Spurs, he posted 18.0 points on 51.3 percent shooting (a career-high), along with 8.5 rebounds in 30.6 minutes over 74 regular-season contests. Alongside Tim Duncan for his final NBA season, Aldridge turned in an All-Star campaign and helped lead San Antonio to a 67-15 regular-season mark. The team would go on to lose in the Western Conference semifinals, but Aldridge performed well individually, averaging 21.9 points and 8.9 boards in 33.7 minutes over the 10 games.
However, in taking over the keys to the Spurs’ frontcourt from Duncan last season, Aldridge surprisingly took a slight step back, snapping his streak of five-straight All-Star appearances. In 72 regular-season contests, he averaged 17.3 points on 47.7 percent shooting along with 7.3 rebounds in 32.4 minutes. While his individual numbers decreased, the Spurs still dominated, going 61-21 before eventually losing badly in the Western Conference Finals in part due to an injury that forced Kawhi Leonard off the court. In 16 playoff games, Aldridge averaged 16.5 points and 7.4 boards in 33.6 minutes.
Entering his 12th NBA season at 32 years old, wear and tear might become an issue for the 6’11”, 260-pounder in the near future, but the Spurs still wanted to make sure that he wasn’t going anywhere after his contract had the potential to expire after this season if he declined his player option worth $22.3 million.
As reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Aldridge and the Spurs reached an agreement on a three-year, $72.3 million extension on Monday, keeping him in San Antonio through the 2020-2021 season.
Zach Lowe of ESPN reported that only $7 million is guaranteed in the final year of the extension.
Despite the fact that Aldridge still performed much better than other power forwards across the league throughout his time with the Spurs, it appeared as though he never quite gelled with coach Gregg Popovich or the offensive system in general.
Wojnarowski revealed two very interesting layers to the extension.
First, the Spurs attempted to trade him earlier this summer.
“San Antonio did discuss trade scenarios with teams centered on Aldridge prior to the draft and during the summer but never found an offer that intrigued them enough to make a deal,” Woj reported.
Secondly, both sides might have agreed to the deal out of pure necessity, as Wojnarowski wrote, “San Antonio didn't have a better alternative available in free agency to partner with Leonard, and Aldridge couldn't be sure that he'd be able to find this kind of long-term financial score available on the free-agent market.”
While the situation might not be optimal for either side, Aldridge will now presumably be a Spur for the next few years unless he gets traded somewhere along the line. It will be interesting to see if his personal production improves this season.