The San Antonio Spurs announced on Friday that All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge will be out indefinitely with a minor heart arrhythmia
The Spurs issued a statement on Friday morning following a 112-102 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. During the game, Aldridge reportedly “felt a little odd,” which led to this diagnosis.
“All parties have concluded that at the current time it is best for Aldridge to refrain from play until further tests and examinations are completed,”
Head coach Gregg Popovich went on to say:
“Somebody says a heart, you start thinking a little more possible long-term kind of stuff, that’s a little scary,” Popovich said. “But you don’t go there yet. They’re doing tests. They did some tests today and they’re going to continue it on Monday. He’s going to see some people on Monday, and based on what they do and see, we’ll figure then what we’re really looking at. We really don’t know right now.”
For Aldridge, the daunting fear of a serious heart problem is an all too familiar feeling.
In 2007, Aldridge had his rookie season cut short after being diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. A anomaly which can cause an irregular and sometimes increased heartbeat.
With one of the key foundational players facing the possibility of an extended absence, the Spurs must now look to their bench depth to shoulder the load.
In the Spurs win over the Atlanta Hawks last night, Popovich elected to start David Lee in the front court alongside Kawhi Leonard and Dewayne Dedmon which works in a similar way as staggering the minutes of the teams best players.
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Having Gasol come off the bench, either on a full-time or game-by-game basis allows the Spurs to always have one of the top-two scorers on the floor at all times. It also allows Gasol to play a higher percentage of his minutes against the opposing teams reserve unit which is a very favorable tactic to solidify or maintain a close lead down the stretch.
David Lee provides a very different skill set to that of Gasol. The biggest attribute that Lee brings into the team is his ability to make intelligent passes. The main problem lies within his lack of shooting or defense.
Gasol and Aldridge are both very reliable, low-volume 3-point shooters which in turn opens up driving lanes for the likes of Tony Parker, Patty Mills or Leonard. With Lee, that spacing reduces significantly and puts more pressure on Dedmon and Leonard to carry the defensive load.
The hope is still that Aldridge will only miss a limited number of games.
However, with the postseason edging closer and closer, it will be interesting to see what kind of line-up alterations the Spurs go with, particularly with the 1-seed still very much within arms-reach.