Was clearing cap space for LaMarcus Aldridge worth it for the Spurs?

Spurs traded Splitter; Duncan, Leonard, Green, Ginobili took pay cuts

By Adrian Garcia - Digital Journalist

Courtesy: Getty Images

SAN ANTONIO - After just two seasons with the San Antonio Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge wants out “in the worst way,” according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

Days before the lead-up to Thursday night’s 2017 NBA Draft, rumors began to surface about the Spurs actively shopping the five-time All-Star power forward after reports emerged of Aldridge’s unhappiness with his role in the silver and black uniform.

With the rumors of Aldridge’s desire to leave San Antonio, Spurs fans are left with only one question: “Was it worth it?”

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In the 2014 off-season, Aldridge was in his final year with the Portland Trail Blazers and chose not to sign a three-year, $55 million contract extension with the Blazers.

Aldridge was reported to test the free agency waters in the 2015 off-season in hopes of signing a five-year max contract with the Blazers, or a four-year deal with another team, according to OregonLive.com.

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Fast forward to July 1, 2015, when teams were allowed to begin meeting with free agents, and then three days later, when Aldridge announced in his now-deleted tweet: “I'm happy to say I'm going home to Texas and will be a Spur!! I'm excited to join the team and be close to my family and friends."

However, July 4, 2015, will also serve as the day when San Antonio decided to split the core of their 2014 championship team by trading away fan-favorite Tiago Splitter to the Atlanta Hawks and letting prime contributors such as Corey Joseph, Marco Belinelli, Jeff Ayres and Aron Baynes walk.

In order to sign Aldridge, Spurs needed stars like Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili to re-sign generous contracts to make the transaction complete.

On July 9, 2015, San Antonio officially signed Aldridge to a max contract of four years, $84 million, with a player option in the last year.

Spurs players later re-signed starting with Duncan, who signed a two-year, $10.4 million contract, Green a four-year, $45 million contract, Leonard a max deal five-year, $90 million contract, and Ginobili a two-year, $5.7 million contract with a player option for the second season.

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In his first season with the Spurs, Aldridge averaged 18 points per game on 51 percent shooting, 8.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

Aldridge’s performance in 2015 earned him an All-Star appearance, and an All-NBA Second Team nomination for the first time in his career.

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However, his first year with the Spurs did not proceed after ending the 2016 season averaging 17.3 points per game on 48 percent shooting, with 7.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game.

For San Antonio, Aldridge was seen as a successor to Spurs legend Duncan after posting his NBA best career numbers in his last season with the Blazers, averaging 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

Despite the Spurs appearing in this year’s Western Conference Finals, a first for Aldridge in his NBA career, he received widespread criticism for his 2016 playoff play posting a career-low 16.5 points per game.

Two years since signing Aldridge, Duncan is now retired, Ginobili is contemplating his retirement and Danny Green is reportedly on the brink of being traded.

The Spurs are said to be feeling the effects of making Aldridge the top-paid Spur in 2015 by having to shed his contract in order to attract the likes of signing top NBA players in this year’ free agency.

By trading Aldridge and/or Green, the Spurs will clear enough cap space to allow them to go after rumored interests in NBA stars such as Chris Paul, Paul George, Kristaps Porzingis and Derrick Rose.

So, Spurs fans let us know: Was it worth it?

 

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