LaMarcus Aldridge Rumors: Heat 'The Leader' for Spurs PF; Lakers, Clippers Lurk

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in San Antonio, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

The Miami Heat are reportedly considered the favorites to land San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge, but there are other teams in the running as well.

On Tuesday's episode of the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast (beginning at the 20:15 mark), ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst said "the league believes" the Heat are the front-runners to sign Aldridge should he receive a buyout as expected.

Windhorst noted that it is far from a done deal, though, as the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers are also interested.

The 35-year-old Aldridge is in his worst statistical season since his rookie campaign in 2006-07, as he is averaging just 13.7 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 21 games.

With the Spurs opting to go younger, Aldridge is now officially out of the picture. Per ESPN's Tim MacMahon, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said earlier this month that the Spurs and Aldridge "mutually agreed for him to work on some opportunities elsewhere."

A trade before Thursday's deadline is possible, but assuming no team wants to give up an asset for Aldridge, the likeliest resolution is a buyout, which would make Aldridge a free agent.

This season has been far from ideal for Aldridge, but the 15-year veteran is among the best big men of his generation as evidenced by seven All-Star nods and five All-NBA selections.

He has averaged at least 20 points per game in a season seven times and at least eight rebounds per game in a season on nine occasions. For his career, he owns averages of 19.4 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.1 blocks.

Miami is a logical landing spot since Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk are essentially the only bigs on the roster who head coach Erik Spoelstra trusts to play big minutes.

The Heat have been somewhat disappointing this season with a 22-21 record, but they are in the playoffs right now, and they have a group capable of making a deep run on the heels of reaching the NBA Finals last season.

Like the Heat, the Lakers and Clippers both have championship aspirations as well, and they could benefit from a veteran big with over 1,000 games of NBA experience like Aldridge.

Windhorst reported that the Lakers are favored to sign Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond should he receive a buyout as expected, but if that doesn't happen, Aldridge would be a nice fallback option.

Anthony Davis remains on the shelf with Achilles and calf injuries, while center Marc Gasol has been a disappointment, meaning Aldridge would likely play a big role with the Lakers should they sign him.

The Clippers have a bit more quality depth in their frontcourt with Serge Ibaka, Ivica Zubac and Nicolas Batum, but it is being tested, with Ibaka missing some time due to back spasms.

Aldridge may not be a game-changer for any of the aforementioned teams at this point in his career, but it can't hurt for a playoff team to add a player with his resume to the mix for the stretch run.