LaMarcus Aldridge Rumors: Top NBA Teams Interested If Spurs F Becomes Free Agent

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2021

San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during an NBA basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

While the San Antonio Spurs are optimistic they'll find a trade partner for LaMarcus Aldridge ahead of the March 25 deadline, several top teams are interested if the seven-time All-Star is eventually bought out.

ESPN's Tim MacMahon reported contenders are "privately expressing interest in adding him as a free agent." Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Aldridge would not be with the team after the All-Star break ahead of Wednesday's loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

Aldridge was taken out of the Spurs' starting lineup in his last three appearances before the break in favor of Jakob Poeltl, marking the first time he'd come off the bench since his rookie season. His final appearance for the team saw him score just two points on 0-of-3 shooting in 15 minutes in a March 1 loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

"He's been a great teammate. No problem there," Popovich said. "We just think this is a win-win for both LaMarcus and the club. When an opportunity arises, that'll be up to management, his agent and that sort of thing, and we'll all move forward."

Aldridge, 35, averaged 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds in 21 appearances this season, his sixth with the Spurs. He carries a $24 million cap number and is a free agent this summer.

The money will be the biggest barrier San Antonio faces in finding a trade partner for Aldridge, who will likely be a rental for a playoff team. Few contenders have $24 million in space available to take on his salary; the pool of suitors would expand greatly if he becomes a free agent.

The Boston Celtics, who have a $28.5 million trade exception and a need in the middle, are perhaps the best immediate fit. However, Boston's trade exception lasts until November, and the team may wait until the offseason when a longer-term option may come available.