After a recent report claimed Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge could be on the block as his team prepares for the new NBA season, the basketball star said he’s happy because the Spurs are coming off a winning season and that he regularly speaks to head coach Gregg Popovich.
"I didn't buy into it. I haven't heard anything about it. I talked to Pop (head coach Gregg Popovich) daily and he's always telling me that I'm doing great," Aldridge said on The Jim Rome Show, News4 San Antonio reported Thursday. "Trying to be a more of a leader. He's put me in positions where I can be more of a leader. As long as the guys here aren't saying bad things to me. All my teammates have said nothing but great things to me."
He added: "Yeah for sure I am (happy in San Antonio). We made history last year. They've incorporated me into the family. Try to make me one of the big pieces."
The 31-year-old Aldridge, who’s entering his second season with the Spurs after signing a four-year, $84.1 million contract and moving out of Portland last summer, was involved in recent trade chatter after ESPN columnist Zach Lowe suggested Aldridge could be on the move this year. Lowe wrote in a prediction column for the upcoming season that the Spurs may believe they aren’t a very strong title contender this year, and unless the team exceeds expectations, the Spurs “should take calls on Aldridge.”
“Aldridge may not even finish the year with the Spurs. That experiment hasn’t quite worked out the way they hoped,” ESPN and CSN New England reporter Jackie MacMullan also reported.
As the team transitions out of the Tim Duncan era, it, for now, appears unlikely Aldridge will be moved. He acclimated well into Popovich’s system by averaging 18 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 51.3 percent shooting from the field during San Antonio’s franchise-record 67-win season and was sensational in the postseason with 21.9 points per game.
But given Aldridge’s contract under the NBA's inflated salary cap, it is possible San Antonio receives and actually listens to inquiries for Aldridge. He’ll make $20.5 million this season, then $21.4 million in 2017-18, and he has a player option worth $22.3 million for the 2018-19 season.
With the cap expected to blow past the $100-million barrier next summer, many players can demand much higher salaries while Aldridge is locked into his current deal until at least 2018. A fact a big-man needy contender, or the Spurs, won’t overlook.