The words of long-time San Antonio Spurs starter LaMarcus Aldridge after Wednesday’s loss might’ve spoken volumes. “I’m still figuring it out, it wasn’t perfect tonight, and I don’t think it’s gonna be perfect for a while. It’s gonna take some time for me to figure it out,” said Aldridge to the media after the Spurs’ narrow loss to the Thunder.
No one but Gregg Popovich knows for sure, but Aldridge’s wording certainly makes it seem like he might be a second-unit player for awhile. Before Wednesday, LaMarcus had started in every game he’d played since 2007 with Portland. But even seven-time All-Stars have their day eventually, and perhaps that has arrived for the Texas native.
Aldridge had his moments against the Thunder, but it looked undeniable that he was better suited playing behind Jakob Poeltl in the lineup. LaMarcus has put up Hall-of-Fame-worthy numbers in his career, and I’m not inclined to disparage his career as a Spurs in any way. As I’ve written before, he has his name all over the San Antonio Spurs’ record books.
Still, every man has his day. Just as David Robinson passed the torch to Tim Duncan and Tony Parker passed the torch to Dejounte Murray, it’s time for LaMarcus to do the same. While Poeltl might not be the ultimate answer going forward, his elite defense is what has the team where they are now.
The San Antonio Spurs’ lineup going forward
Based on Aldridge’s comments and knowing his character, I can see a starting lineup without him for the foreseeable future. He might not be thrilled about it, but LaMarcus has always been a loyal guy committed to winning at all costs, and he wouldn’t throw a fit for having to sacrifice a starting spot.
However, since Coach Popovich has been more often open to mixing up his starters than in years past, I could see him shifting Aldridge in and out of the starting lineup as needed according to matchups. It’s not a comfortable situation. LaMarcus has built a tremendous career over the last 15 seasons.
But his defensive abilities are hard to ignore at this point and are better served against bench units. Ultimately, time will tell if his extremely rare bench appearance is a one-time deal or a new staple.