NBA Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on LaMarcus Aldridge, Hassan Whiteside and More

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2017

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 09:  Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat looks on during a preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets at American Airlines Arena on October 9, 2017 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The NBA rumor mill never stops, even when the regular season is less than a week old.

This past offseason showed how quickly things can come together regarding a landscape-changing trade. Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Carmelo Anthony were all expected to move, but the timing of their deals—and the terms of each trade—shocked many fans.

LaMarcus Aldridge, Hassan Whiteside and Dennis Schroder all remained with their current teams through the summer, but it wasn't through a lack of effort—at least in the case of Aldridge and Whiteside. Schroder, meanwhile, may prove difficult to move for the Atlanta Hawks.

                    

LaMarcus Aldridge

Darren Abate/Associated Press

It's no secret the partnership between LaMarcus Aldridge and the San Antonio Spurs hasn't gone according to plan. Per ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Spurs tried to trade the five-time All-Star last season.

Wojnarowski reported on his podcast (which begins at around the 25:00 mark) that not only did the Spurs shop Aldridge, the player himself was also open to possible trades. San Antonio discussed deals around the NBA draft and through the summer, with Wojnarowski reporting the Spurs had hoped to land Irving.

Instead, Aldridge is still a Spurs player, and he now has a three-year extension that could pay him up to $72 million. Wojnarowski reported last Tuesday the contract includes his $22.3 million option for next year, and ESPN.com's Zach Lowe reported only $7 million in the final year of the deal is guaranteed.

Aldridge's situation feels somewhat like Kevin Love's Cleveland Cavaliers career. Trade rumors swirled around Love for much of his first few years in Cleveland until the team won a championship in 2016. Now, he's the Cavs' second-best player, behind LeBron James, until Isaiah Thomas returns.

Shortly after his extension was announced, Aldridge said he had talked with Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich this past summer.

"I feel like the talks this summer were very constructive," Aldridge said, per ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright. "I felt it was kind of needed, having the heart to heart where you just say how you feel. Pop has been great about the things that I've said I kind of needed or wanted. So far, it's been great."

For as much as Aldridge had trouble fitting in with San Antonio, re-signing him made sense for the team. He averaged 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds through his first two years, which is solid production. And replacing Aldridge with a player of similar quality would've been very difficult.

At least for the short term, Aldridge's extension seemingly ends the doubt about his future in San Antonio.

           

Hassan Whiteside

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

Last January, Lowe reported on his podcast the Heat were open to trading anybody on their roster, including Hassan Whiteside, who was in the first year of his four-year, $98.4 million contract.

The report came as the Heat were stuck in a brutal start to the 2016-17 season. They finished the second half with a 30-11 record, which changed the general attitude around the team. Miami could potentially challenge for a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference this season, especially after Gordon Hayward's ankle injury knocking him out for most—if not all—of the year with the Boston Celtics.

Still, questions about Whiteside's long-term fit with the Heat have yet to fully subside.

Lowe floated a hypothetical trade in which Whiteside would switch places with New Orleans Pelicans big man DeMarcus Cousins before adding "both teams swear up and down this won't happen."

On the Oct. 17 edition of The Hoop Collective, ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan expressed a level of skepticism about Miami building its roster around Whiteside. Around the 1:30:50 mark of the podcast, MacMullan called making Whiteside the foundational player of the team "problematic" and reported the Heat had "tried to trade him all over the block."

Whiteside averaged 17.0 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks a game last year but still struggled to maintain a high enough level of consistency from game to game.

His field-goal percentage also slipped for the third straight year. After making 62.8 percent of his shots in 2014-15—his first year in Miami—Whiteside connected on 55.7 percent of his attempts in 2016-17. And that's despite Whiteside still taking 44.5 percent of his shots from within three feet, according to Basketball Reference.

The 28-year-old limited opponents to 61 percent on shots inside six feet last season, per NBA.com.

There's little reason to think a Whiteside trade is on the horizon. Particularly given the Hayward injury, the Heat will likely want to give their current core at least a full season before making any significant changes.

The fact Miami entertained the idea of a Whiteside trade before illustrates he may not be untouchable in the future, though.

           

Dennis Schroder

LM Otero/Associated Press

Lowe reported on his podcast in September that some Atlanta Hawks players were all too happy to learn of Dwight Howard's trade to the Charlotte Hornets. Somewhat overlooked at the time was a comment by Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com.

"As one person inside the locker room told me, 'Do you know how hard it is to make Dennis Schroder the good guy in an internecine warfare between players?'" Arnovitz said (h/t Deadspin's Patrick Redford). "Do you know how hard it is to have a locker room pro-Dennis in terms of just mood and personality?"

According to The Vertical's Chris Mannix, the negative perception around Schroder isn't limited to Hawks players.

Mannix wrote that Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk generally isn't a fan of long-term contracts, such as Schroder's four-year deal worth $70 million. Unloading Schroder's contract may not be an option for Atlanta, though.

"But more importantly, there is no real market for him," Mannix reported. "I ran Schroder's name by a few team executives this week, and each recoiled. There's a toxicity surrounding Schroder right now. A reputation as a selfish player has gained significant traction throughout the league."

Mannix also spoke to a Western Conference front-office executive who said they "don't need that kind of headache" in terms of acquiring Schroder.

Schroder only turned 24 in September, and he averaged 17.9 points and 6.3 assists per game after taking over for Jeff Teague as Atlanta's starting point guard last year.

In theory, he should be a key part of the Hawks' rebuild. Having strong chemistry inside the locker room is important to building a contender, though. If Schroder is causing friction with some of his teammates, then trading him should be a strong consideration for Atlanta, even if the team has to take a lesser return in doing so.

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