LaMarcus Aldridge’s former teammate on the Portland Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard, discussed his departure to the San Antonio Spurs in 2015.
LaMarcus Aldridge arrived to the San Antonio Spurs in the 2015 offseason. He signed a four-year deal to join the second team of his career. The previous nine seasons were spent with the Portland Trail Blazers, who selected Aldridge in the 2006 NBA Draft.
Damian Lillard played his first three seasons with Aldridge in Portland. These two developed into a dynamic one-two punch for the team, as Lillard rose to become a top point guard with each passing year.
Recently, Lillard spoke out about Aldridge’s departure on Everyday Struggle of Complex News (h/t Pounding the Rock and Blazers’ Edge). He didn’t hold back on the events of 2015. Although not controversial, it looked like the media played into the situation, along with Aldridge’s desire to give the Weber State product the reins:
By the time we spoke [LaMarcus] was like, “Man, honestly, it seems like the team want to make you the face of the franchise, and I’m going to move on and do this.” I was like “Alright, I respect it,” but he told me maybe a day or two before it actually came out.
This pushed the now 32-year-old to join the Spurs and be the primary player, with Tim Duncan on his way out. That didn’t happen, as Kawhi Leonard broke out and became one of the NBA’s best players. This included his first two 20-point seasons in 2015-16 and 2016-17, which were Aldridge’s first two years in San Antonio.
Aldridge has the chance to leave the Alamo City after the 2017-18 season, as he has a player option for $22 million for the 2018 offseason. Rumors were all over at the end of June, but disappeared after the NBA Draft. Will they materialize next summer?
Meanwhile, Lillard had his best NBA season in 2016-17. He scored 27 points per game and dished out 5.9 assists. It didn’t earn him an All-Star Game appearance, however. With the Western Conference adding superstar talents in the 2017 offseason, accomplishments like that will be hard to come by.
It’s long past the Lillard-Aldridge partnership in the Rip City. How will these two produce this season?