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The Acquisition Of LaMarcus Aldridge Recreates The Past For The San Antonio Spurs

Tim Duncan is hoping to win another trophy with the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge. (photo courtesy of

Tim Duncan is hoping to win another trophy with the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge. (photo courtesy of

The San Antonio Spurs have been one of the best teams in the NBA over the last few years. They have been written off time and time again, and yet they continue to come back stronger and stronger. After this past season and the Game 7 loss, plenty began to write them off yet again and wonder how they were going to rebuild. Well, this offseason was especially different due to the Spurs actually in pursuit of one of the big-name free agents, LaMarcus Aldridge. The veteran big man has been special throughout his entire career in Portland but has never been made it past the second round in the playoffs. Some may say it is more due to Aldridge, but he has done all that is possible to make it happen in Portland for the Trailblazers. At this juncture of his career, Aldridge had a choice to make. He had teams like Los Angeles, Phoenix and New York coming for him in free agency and willing to pay him max contract money. All the while Portland could have actually gave him more money and years. In the end, it was about the money and the winning that could happen as well. Aldridge has decided to play for the San Antonio Spurs. And now he and Kawhi Leonard are two of the highest paid players on a team that has its sites set on winning another title. But what makes this signing even more important is the pairing of Tim Duncan with a guy who some scream is similar in Aldridge. Examining their relationship brings some similarities to a previous relationship between two players in San Antonio.

When Duncan first arrived in the NBA, many were already aware of him and his talents. But what some wondered is how Duncan would fit beside veteran David Robinson. The Admiral, as Robinson is called, had been the focal point of the Spurs offense for most of his career. He had carried the Spurs offensively and set the tone defensively for them. But entering Duncan’s rookie season, Robinson was beginning to slow down and injuries were starting to limit him. Robinson could have been disgruntled and not wanted to give some direction of the offense up to Duncan. But he realized that Tim Duncan could have been the piece needed to help the Spurs reach the ultimate achievement: a championship. And in his rookie season, Duncan was definitely let know he was the man in the paint. In his first and second years in the NBA, Duncan averaged 21 points per game. But it was in the 1999 postseason that Duncan became the man for the Spurs. He would go on to average 23 points per game along with 12 rebounds per game as the Spurs won their first title. At that official point, the torch was officially passed. No more was there Mr. Robinson. Instead, the Big Fundamental took over the scene and it became his team over the time. That never would have happened if David Robinson did not see the big picture. And two championships later (1999 and 2003), the Spurs transformed into the standard bearer of winning in the West.

Duncan is now the elder statesman in San Antonio. And because of the age of Duncan, it is starting to look like it’s time to transfer the focus of the offense to someone else. With LaMarcus Aldridge there, Duncan’s role will decrease. Duncan is still very effective offensively and that is something that will benefit the Spurs. But in order for them to take the next step, Duncan has to relinquish the power he once had in San Antonio. The amazing thing is almost 18 years later, Duncan is playing the elder man in this situation. Although Aldridge is 30, he has never won a ring or advanced beyond the second round. What Duncan’s role will be now is to impart his wisdom onto Aldridge. For his part, Aldridge brings more versatility to the Spurs offense and could probably cover more ground. But the new Twin Towers is something that can be beneficial as Duncan is winding down. Imagine the amount of punishment the Spurs could dish out with all the pieces they have. And ultimately this move just put the Spurs back in the hunt for a title. But for them to make it, Aldridge has to be ready to take over the reins.

The Spurs are definitely making good moves to make it happen come playoff time. But the sacrifice of Duncan and Robinson are things that really make these types of things work contractually-wise and personnel wise. The first baton was passed from The Admiral to The Big Fundamental in Tim Duncan. And now the baton is about to pass on to Aldridge. San Antonio is now known for not only winning, but the unselfishness of its star players. And with that, you end up with a team that has multiple championships.

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Tyson Chandler Was A Wasted Signing For The Phoenix Suns

Tyson Chandler lands in Phoenix. But does his signing really make a difference? (photo courtesy of

Tyson Chandler lands in Phoenix. But does his signing really make a difference? (photo courtesy of

The NBA free agency bonanza caught fire early and often today. The teams that were thought to potentially lose players actually retained them instead. Kevin Love shocked many by staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers to the tune of five years and $110 million. He stated in his article in The Player’s Tribune that he was re-signing with Cleveland, that “it’s time to get back to work” and that “we (the Cleveland Cavaliers) have unfinished business”. But as much as some were shocked by that deal, there were others that may have been shocked by what happened in the Valley of The Sun today. The Phoenix Suns re-signed their trade acquisition of last season, guard Brandon Knight to a five-year, $70 million deal. That was to be expected as they gave up some pieces for him. But along with that deal today, the Phoenix Suns also signed a veteran big man that no one expected them to sign. Tyson Chandler agreed to a four-year deal with Phoenix to the tune of $52 million. It can be guaranteed that no one saw this deal coming for the 32 year old center in the NBA. In fact, some Suns fans are probably still shocked by this signing. But unfortunately, the shock will probably turn into disgust very soon for them.

When watching the Suns last season, they seemed to be a young team willing to go with their youngsters and gain experience. And although they did not make the playoffs, they still had some of the most talented pieces in the NBA. The thing that they needed was some veteran leadership, but they did not need it at the center position. Honestly, they needed to get a little bigger in the backcourt but with the signing of Brandon Knight to pair along with Eric Bledsoe, they will once again trot out there a small backcourt for some teams to take advantage of them. The Suns had their center to build with in Alex Len. The former Maryland Terrapin was showing some progress last season even though he has had some injury issues along the way. He was a guy that could block some shots as well as finish around the rim. But apparently, the former 1st round pick was not enough for the Suns and they went out and signed Chandler to be the starter in front of him. By doing this, Phoenix could potentially stunt the growth of their potential center of the future. Some may say that he is going to be able to help Len, but that kid needs playing time to get better. To give an example how Phoenix could stunt Len’s growth, just take a look at the Golden State Warriors. Harrison Barnes was great this season for them in the starting lineup, but last season he was bad when he was relegated to the bench when they signed Andre Iguodala last season. Barnes was awful as a sub behind Iggy and that seemed to stunt his progress. They switched the roles and let Barnes start this season and just like magic he played well and had a good season. The same could happen for Len with Chandler coming in to take his starting role. For the Suns’ sake, they better hope it does not faze him and that he continues to improve and get better.

Tyson also was signed to a deal that guaranteed him $13 million a season. But what is interesting about Chandler is that he cannot score at all. He was apparently part of Phoenix’s presentation to star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge on Wednesday and that could help them land him, as they have moved neck and neck reportedly with the San Antonio Spurs for his services. But what if they don’t land Aldridge in free agency? That means the Suns have just signed a player that will not bring anything to them offensively and may not be the difference-maker he once was at his current age in the NBA. The Suns brought him in to be an impact player defensively, but for $13 million a year, he has to be able to give them more than just defense. If that is all they are giving him, then the Suns just threw some money out the door with this signing and it will not make a difference at all. And one other thing Chandler might want to pay attention to in Phoenix: the point guards that he is playing with. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are not guys that are known to be distributors. In fact, both can be dynamic offensive players in different ways but not in the way of distributing to teammates. That relegates Chandler to a defense and rebounding guy, which the Suns could have got for cheaper with a guy like Robin Lopez, who is still out there in free agency right now. But now they are tied to Chandler and they will move forward hoping he is able to bring them Aldridge.

The Suns are a team that is trying to make the playoffs and they needed to make a few moves to make sure it happens. But with what they have done so far, they have not helped their chances on making the playoffs at all. In fact, there is nothing that tells me this team is ready to make a run for the playoffs at all with Chandler being added to the mix. Chandler has been a good veteran player in the NBA, but this fit with him in Phoenix is just not the right one. Phoenix may not recognize it right now, but they will definitely recognize it soon enough.

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The Best And Worst Fits For LaMarcus Aldridge’s Services

It's decision time for LaMarcus Aldridge. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Stewart/US PRESSWIRE)

It’s decision time for LaMarcus Aldridge. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Stewart/US PRESSWIRE)

There are many free agents out there that have some decisions to make. Some, like Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies, are only taking meetings with the team he has played for in the NBA and no one else. While others have decided to open up the field and take meetings from everyone. There are some enticing names out there, but one that rings a bell for many is Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. Last offseason, the Portland Trailblazers tried to lock up the talented forward to an extension. And although it was believed by many that he would stay there and sign a more lucrative extension with Portland this offseason, there was some speculation as to him potentially leaving Portland this summer. This belief came to fruition a little bit more when Aldridge opened up his recruitment this summer as of the last few weeks. There are as many as seven teams that are reportedly interested in him and want to add him to their rosters. Aldridge, although he has not really won a lot in the playoffs, is a big man that many consider dominant and that can change a team’s fortunes just with a signature. And expectedly, he is the most coveted free agent out there (subtracting LeBron James from this one because we know he isn’t leaving Cleveland again). But where would be the best fit for him?

The list of teams interested in Aldridge are the New York Knicks, the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, the Houston Rockets, the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns. Looking that list of teams, there are a couple that stand out in regards to his talents. If you have taken a look at Aldridge’s game, it is very versatile in terms of his range. The 6’11” power forward can post very well when he wants to. He can face you up and take the jump shot as well as drive the middle of the lane or the baseline to attack the rim. But what makes Aldridge even more special is his ability to stretch the defense for a man his size. He can shoot all the way out to the three-point line and he can also be a good pick-and-pop big with as well as he shoots the jumper. At times he can get too comfortable shooting the jump shot, but he is effective with it nonetheless. The team that would obviously benefit from having him the most is the San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan is not getting any younger and with Kawhi Leonard getting ready to accept a big extension from the Spurs, San Antonio needs another piece to go along with him. By adding Aldridge, that helps stabilize the team down low once Duncan decides to hang it up. In essence, you would be replacing Duncan with a player that is very similar to him but more athletic. Add him to what they have coming back next year reportedly (Duncan and Manu Ginobli are reportedly coming back on cheaper salaries to help the team) and this team could be hoisting the trophy again in 2016 with Aldridge. And the good thing about the Spurs is that they can pay Aldridge as much as they want due to the sacrifices of Duncan and Ginobli. At this point in their careers, they know they are playing more for rings than salaries. And for Duncan, that can help them potentially get one more before riding off into the sunset. For Aldridge, it would help him add a crowning achievement to his career and also help the Spurs bridge the gap successfully into the next era of San Antonio basketball. Imagine the motion offense they run with Aldridge and Kawhi being the main options. But for the here and now, Aldridge and Duncan would remind many of the original Twin Towers that San Antonio had when they won it the first time with a young Tim Duncan and a veteran David Robinson. Amazing how things can change over time as Duncan would be the veteran in this scenario.

The Spurs would be an excellent fit for Aldridge and he could very well land there. But like there is a best fit for Aldridge, there is one fit that would be the worst for him. The Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks are clamoring for the services of Aldridge. Both are looking at him as the missing piece to what they want to accomplish. But in reality, both teams are a tie for the worst fit for his services. In Dallas, the team there is a jump-shooting team for the most part. And even though Aldridge can shoot the jump shot, he would basically be asked to be the post presence for that team. That is fine and dandy on the offensive end of the court, but on the defensive end that would be trouble. Imagine Aldridge having to be the rim protector for the Mavericks. Even though Chandler is older, he is still far and away a better rim protector than Aldridge will ever be. The only way the addition of Aldridge could work is if the Mavericks can send Dirk to the bench and allow Aldridge to start with a guy like Chandler as the center alongside him. But the reality of that happening is slim to none and even if it did, the Mavericks still would not have enough in the West to win a title. As far as Houston, they seemed to be run by James Harden. And that can be a good thing and a bad thing. Harden is a playmaker on the offensive end of the court and a lot of the offense runs through his hands. But Harden has said that he would like for Houston to bring another playmaker in besides him next season. Looking at the Houston Rockets as they are (when healthy), there are devoid of another playmaker and need one sorely to take the load off Harden a little bit more. In the draft, they had the opportunity to add a playmaker and chose to add Sam Dekker instead. So with the addition of Aldridge, that would not address the need they had. Dwight Howard occupies the post and that would take away from the touches Aldridge would have in there. And as far as him pairing with Harden, he would become exclusively a pick-and-pop guy, and that would not be what the Rockets needed. Ironically, Josh Smith actually fits this team better than Aldridge because he has the ability to be a playmaker, although he is inconsistent at times. Aldridge going there would not make this team any more dangerous unless they got rid of Dwight Howard or he found a jumpshot, two things that are not likely to happen anytime soon.

Of course there are four other teams that fit in this scenario and the Lakers are reportedly the leading candidate for his services. The fit there would be nice, but with the fluidity of the situation there in regards to the potential trade for Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, there is no telling what kind of team will be there. If they get Cousins, the team would be tough provided Kobe can stay healthy this season. If they don’t trade for Cousins, then he could potentially have to play center and that would not be a good thing defensively at all. In the end, Aldridge will get paid one way or the other. The decision is his ultimately, but if he is seriously thinking about getting a ring along with getting paid, San Antonio is the spot where he needs to go. They have the best coach, system and scenario for him to succeed immediately.

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The Kevin Love Sweepstakes Is About To Get Started

Kevin Love is officially a free agent. But where does he land next season? (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Kevin Love is officially a free agent. But where does he land next season? (photo courtesy of Getty Images)

Decision time has come about for many in the NBA. There are some players that are have options on their contracts whether they would like to accept the contract they have or opt out in search of a better deal for themselves. LeBron James is one of the names that is opting out, but he is expected to re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers. But James isn’t the only star player that has this option in Cleveland. The Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Kevin Love last offseason and shipped the past two number one overall picks to Minnesota for him. The Cavs did this knowing that Love could potentially opt out of his deal after this season. But to many, they believed that Kevin Love and LeBron would be a good pairing based on their games. Well, it seems as if the pairing did not work as well as some thought, as Love had one of his worst scoring and rebounding seasons in the NBA. The pairing of Love with Kyrie Irving and LeBron James was not as good as some thought it would be. And as the season went on, it seemed the relationship between both James and Love was not the smoothest either. Of course Love is one of the hardest people to read in the NBA, so this talk about their relationship could be just rumors. But with all that talk and the play circulating in the media, Kevin Love made a decision to opt out of the last year of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He could still end up in Cleveland next season, but the great thing for the Cleveland Cavaliers in this decision is now it makes it a little easier on them as to what options they have this summer. If Love would have opted in, the Cavs would have been in a tough place when it came to Tristian Thompson, who is a restricted free agent this offseason. Now instead of wondering how Love and James would get along, the NBA and its fans will be waiting to see where Love turns up next.

Kevin Love is a stats guy. He has averaged double-figure points and rebounds for five of his seven seasons in the NBA. And for what it’s worth, he is one of the best outlet passers in the NBA. That could be great for a team that is starting the fast break. The perfect fit for Love would be a team that has some explosive wings but allows him to be a focal point of the offense. In that aspect, there are a few teams that may be able to comply with what he would like. The most obvious answer for a team craving Love is the Los Angeles Lakers. Many Lakers fans have thought that eventually Love would be coming home to the Lakers. And in this circumstance, he could make Los Angeles his home. The Lakers have at least $23 million in cap space this offseason. The Lakers recently selected D’Angelo Russell out of Ohio State with the 2nd pick in the draft, so the indication from Los Angeles is that Love will be one of two power forwards they look at this offseason (LaMarcus Aldridge is the other). But with the silence of Kevin Love, you don’t know whether or not he wants the extra year on his deal and that could potentially affect him coming to LA or not. The only way he gets that extra year on his deal to go to Los Angeles is if he is signed and traded to them. And in that case, the Lakers would have to give up something to get him. More than likely it would be future draft picks and also a player. If I was the Cavaliers, I would ask for Julius Randle in return for trading Love to the Lakers. That would allow for the Cavs to sign Tristian Thompson back and also get him a backup in Randle to solve their power forward position. But of course, the Lakers are not the only ones interested in Love this offseason and they may not even be interested in parting ways with Randle so soon.

The Boston Celtics are another team that is checking out the prospects of bringing Love in. Danny Ainge tried to work something out to get him to Boston before when Rajon Rondo was still their point guard to no avail. Well, the Celtics now have a stockpile of picks and interesting players available to make something happen this time. The Celtics, like the Lakers, could try and swing a free agent deal with Love and leave it at that. That would give them Love’s talents for four years and more than likely max money. But if the Celtics were to decide to do a sign and trade for Love, they have all the assets to make it happen. They have a gluttony of talent in their frontcourt that many would be interested in including forward Jared Sullinger and forward Kelly Olynyk (wouldn’t it be interesting if he was traded to the Cavs in this one). But in all honesty, Love would not make as big a difference as the main player on that team. The Celtics need one more piece to go along with Love should they sign him outright or trade for him. That piece is a frontline scorer. If Love is brought in on that team and asked to be the leading scorer for them, then that team would go nowhere fast. And with the picks the Celtics made in this most recent draft, you have to count on free agency for them to add some punch there. In the end, he is not a difference-maker for that team that takes them to the playoffs. Of course he would get more touches and make more things happen for that team. But it would be Minnesota all over again but on the East coast and Love wants to be the focus or secondary focus on a team and win basketball games.

A darkhorse candidate that may take a look at Love is the New York Knicks. They drafted big man Kristaps Porzingis 4th overall in the draft, who by all accounts will not be ready to make a big contribution anytime soon. The Knicks redeemed themselves a little bit with trading Tim Hardaway Jr to the Atlanta Hawks for talented point guard Jerian Grant, but there is still the matter of that hole in the frontcourt. As the Knicks stand right now, they have no big men that are going to be there. Carmelo would slide back to the power forward position again if no one is found, but that is not expected to happen. The Knicks are expected to make a run at big man Greg Monroe and there are rumors out there that David West could sign there after opting out of his player option in Indianapolis. But none of these guys is a given to sign at this point and time. And even if the Knicks were going to sign Monroe they would still be able to take Kevin Love. Of course the money dries up quick when you spend it, and the Knicks would overspend for Monroe and another piece as well as trying to get Love. If that is the case, he would be looking to play elsewhere as he is not the top priority there in New York. Plus there is also the issue of whether he and Carmelo could co-exist, which no one knows. Melo is different from LeBron in that he is more of a scorer than facilitator. And that mix may not be something that would fit Love’s game, let alone the bright lights of the city that he seems to not care for. We could speak of them trading something to Cleveland, but the Knicks have nothing to offer there due to trades in the past and their roster not being as talented.

Love is going to be sought after by a few teams this offseason and there may be some surprises out there that were not mentioned. But along with potentially re-signing in Cleveland (which is a longshot at best at this point), Love has some things to think about. After all, this contract could be the last big contract he signs in the NBA. In all honesty, all teams would need to take a look at what they are willing to sacrifice for a guy that is a defensive liability but can flatout fill it up on the offensive end along with battle on the offensive boards. The choice is not only his but the teams that are interested. And come July 1st, Love, like many others who opted out of deals, will be deciding whether the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.

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The Choice Is Now In The Hands Of Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis has to be thinking about this big contract decision coming soon. (photo courtesy of

Anthony Davis has to be thinking about this big contract decision coming soon. (photo courtesy of

The growth of New Orleans big man Anthony Davis has been undeniable. He entered the league as a player with so much promise and not a lot of tape on what he could be offensively. Well, after three years in the NBA, he has shown that he was worth the number one pick, improving each and every season he has been in the NBA. And along with his improvement, the team has gotten better every year as well. This year, they even made the playoffs with a 45-37 record, although they lost in a sweep to the Golden State Warriors. Davis averaged 31.5 points and 11 rebounds or the series against the Warriors and he honestly could have done more if he was given the basketball even more than he was. The future seems bright for the Pelicans as they are a pretty young team and should learn from this experience. But before next season begins, the Pelicans are trying to lock up their most important piece. Reports are surfacing that Anthony Davis will be offered a max contract with the Pelicans that will pay him $140 million over 5 years. Of course that deal would be a no-brainer for anyone else on that team, but what does Anthony Davis want to do?

Davis is definitely still reaching his ceiling. At only 22 years old, he has become a matchup nightmare for many big men in the NBA. And the crazy part is he can still get better with his game. The thing that Davis has to look at before he signs this contract is the team that can be built around him. As the team currently stands, only have five players under contract for next season (Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson, Quincy Pondexter, Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis) and the Pelicans hold a $15.5 million option for guard Eric Gordon that comes off the books. And going into the 2016-2017 season, currently there are only three players under contract (Holiday, Pondexter and Evans). With the salary cap rising in the next two seasons, the Pelicans have some work to do to build the team around Davis. There will be plenty of players that will be available this offseason and next offseason to help the team get better. The question will be are the Pelicans willing to spend money to get better? If history tells us anything, the Pelicans organization, which used to be nicknamed the Hornets, may be willing to stick their foot in the free agent waters a little bit, but they have not been willing to go all-in for the talents needed to take them to the next level.

Chris Paul was once the best player on this franchise. He would routinely make players around him better along with putting his own spin on the games. But over his tenure with the team, it seemed like the organization never brought in players that would complement his star power. The best player that he played with in his entire career with the franchise was David West. No slight to West, but the team needed more than him to make it happen. As a result, the team was never a serious threat in the Western Conference and eventually Paul left via trade for the Clippers. The organization seemed to want to spend money on players that could not make an impact that was needed to take them higher, instead spending money on role players hoping they would take it to another level with Paul as the point guard. Now the organization was under different ownership at that point and time, but there is no indication that this organization will make a good pickup in free agency. If Davis is paying attention to the history of the organization, he should hold off on signing that extension this summer. Of course there is always the possibility that he could get seriously injured next season. But what he should do is make the Hornets prove to him that they are serious about winning. The organization will truly be able to do so if they are serious about keeping Davis there. Then again, if they are not serious about winning, they may bring in some more role players that cannot make as much of a difference. The organization will have an additional $15 million freed up should they not pick up the option on Gordon and that could definitely make some things happen in terms of bringing a great player in to help take the Pelicans to the next level.

Should Davis not sign the contract extension with the Pelicans, there are plenty of options out there available to him. Anyone out there would gladly make room for Davis on their roster. A team like the Los Angeles Lakers would have the contract of Kobe Bryant falling off the books after the 2015-2016 season. Although they have Julius Randle there as their current power forward of the future, Los Angeles would gladly move him to get the next superstar in the NBA. This is just one scenario, but the point is that Davis could easily pick where he wants to play and although he would lose one year on a max contract leaving the Pelicans, he may gain a team that would be more competitive and bring a better situation to his talents. Only time will tell what Davis can and will do, but the smartest thing to do would be to play Poker with the Pelicans. He holds a lot of the cards with his star rising along with the salary cap as well. It should be interesting to see if he actually signs the deal, which he may do, or if he holds out until the following season like Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge did. And we all see that Aldridge may be leaving the Trailblazers. Could this be the same path that Davis follows? We shall indeed see.

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