The San Antonio Spurs and Lamarcus Aldridge have officially agreed to part ways, with the Spurs management reportedly looking for a trade partner for the 35 year old veteran.
Where this may not appear ideal to Spurs fans, this is a good thing. LA has been out of action the last eight games (nine after Dallas), and the Spurs have gone 6-2 (6-3) in that span. The Spurs lineup is getting younger, with the average age of the starting line up currently sitting at 25.4 years old (and dropping when Demar Derozan leaves this offseason). Those young stars are fantastic, with Jakob Poeltl specifically being set up as a potential future defensive star, especially when he inherits LA’s minutes.
However, the Spurs are not going to want to let Lamarcus Aldridge walk for free, and instead are going to be looking for some compensation in exchange in the form of a trade. In reality, they are going to try and turn him into a draft pick, probably to the Lakers or the Heat. However, I want to examine some more exciting trade options for the Spurs in the next few weeks.
Texas Trade-off for LaMarcus Aldridge
The trade availability of Kristaps Porzingis is constant question mark, leaving him on some kind of Schrodinger’s trade block. He is an elite offensive talent when he is healthy, but he has a horrible time staying that way. He has struggled defensively in the Dallas Mavericks’ system, but who is not defensively struggling in that system (ranks 29th in the league)?
The Mavericks have seen multiple times over the last two seasons that they can handle business without Porzingis on the court, especially is Luka Doncic is healthy. What they desperately need is veteran talent and a rebounder, which ironically happens to be two holes that LA can fill.
However, if the Mavs trade away Porzingis for LA straight up, then Mark Cuban should never be allowed to give financial, business, or sporting advice. The Spurs need to pay up for this exchange, which means they are going to have to offer up another asset. Conveniently, they have just that.
Demar Derozan is going to become a free agent this upcoming offseason and he is not coming back to the Spurs’ organization. In a non-Covid world, he does not exercise his player option this last offseason and is already on another team. The Spurs are going to want to move him to try and get some value from him, and with Porzingis coming in to potentially fill a forward position, this is a perfect situation.
So all in all, the trade looks like:
Spurs receive – Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C
Mavericks receive – Demar Derozan, PF/SF/SG – Lamarcus Aldridge, PF/C
LA to LA
The most likely (and most boring) trade option for Lamarcus Aldridge is sending him to the Lakers in exchange for some draft picks. However, the Lakers severely lack draft picks thanks in large part to their trade with the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis. So they are probably going to need to bring in a third team to make that trade happen.
Taking the idea of a three team trade, what if the Spurs instead focused on tying the LA to LA trade into getting a new, young star? Maybe, perhaps, Harrison Barnes?
Sacremento Kings’ Harrison Barnes is very much available after the Kings season fell apart, and most teams in the NBA should be interested in making a deal for Barnes. He’s young and talented, with elite defensive talent, making him a perfect fit for the Spurs’ roster. However, the Kings have quite a few potential trade partners, which is going to raise the price of Barnes, and where the Spurs have the picks and expendable talent to make it work, they could keep from trading the farm and maybe maintain their position as a 2021 playoff contender. This is where the Lakers come back in.
Of course, the Lakers are going to get Lamarcus Aldridge, but they could also try and get some pieces from the Kings, like Buddy Hield. They have a 2022 first round pick they can offer up, as well as Kyle Kuzma, who Aldridge would be replacing. They could even offer up Caldwell-Pope if the price is a little steeper then expected, since Hield would be taking his spot, in which case, the Spurs could also transfer a second round pick to the Lakers. The Kings are going to want to cover the guard position that Hield will leave open, and that is a great spot for the Spurs to trade Patty Mills.
This trade continues to build the Spurs’ defense (Gregg Poppovich with an elite defensive roster should scare the rest of the league), continues to fill out the Lakers’ super team, and lets the Kings print new jerseys, which gives management the only thing they seem to worry about in that organization: profit.
So in the end, the trade looks like this:
Spurs receive: Harrison Barnes, SF/PF
Lakers receive: Lamarcus Aldridge, PF/C – Buddy Hield, SG – (Potentially) Spurs’ 2022 Second
Kings receive: Lakers’ 2022 First – Kyle Kuzma, PF/SF – Patty Mills, PG – (Potentially) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG
Spurs could also exchange Patty Mills for a first round draft pick to save the Kings some money, although that seems counter intuitive.
Denver should be interested in trading Gary Harris after he missed 14 of 15 games, and the Spurs could get another defensive piece. Gary Harris for LA straight up makes sense, but the Nuggets could sweeten the pot with a second rounder.
Orlando Magic should be looking to trade Aaron Gordon soon after pushing him out of his preferred floor position. They also have money issues, which could result in them pawning off players for the cheap. The Spurs could get a great defensive piece with great scoring potential, and a roster depth piece in exchange for LA. LA to Orlando for Gordon and Khem Birch.
Josh Hart in New Orleans could offer a great depth piece for the Spurs young and talented back court, while also providing another defensive chess piece for Pop. The Pelicans are going to need to clear out money, which means they need to put some players somewhere. The Knicks are finally starting to make something of themselves, and need some help in the back court, as well as a veteran in the front court. In this trade, the Knicks would receive LA and Lonzo Ball, New Orleans would receive a San Antonio second, Austin Rivers, and Patty Mills, and the Spurs would receive Josh Hart.