The San Antonio Spurs are one of the most tight-lipped organizations in the NBA so it’s not surprising that they caught the whole league by surprise this week when Gregg Popovich announced that they would be parting ways with LaMarcus Aldridge.
It’s only fitting that after being the biggest free-agent acquisition in franchise history, LaMarcus figures to be a part of the team’s biggest in-season trade in years. Don’t expect too much in return for Aldridge but it is exciting to see the Spurs changing from their normal behavior of letting the trade deadline glide by.
We’ve mapped out who we think the Spurs should target in a trade for Aldridge, what NBA 2K thinks the Spurs can get in a deal centered around him, and we will continue to cover the situation as it develops. But before he leaves San Antonio, we wanted to look back on LaMarcus’s time with the Silver and Black and give him a grade on the six seasons he’s spent in a Spurs uniform.
Grading LaMarcus Aldridge’s time with the San Antonio Spurs
When Aldridge signed with the San Antonio Spurs many thought he would serve as a bridge between generations, carrying the Big Three into retirement while also linking up with Kawhi Leonard to extend the Spurs dominant run. And for a while, it looked like that would be the case.
Kawhi and LaMarcus would only end up spending two seasons playing with one another. They were on the team for three years together but effectively only got two chances at capturing a title together. And while Aldridge never was able to bring a championship to San Antonio we’re certainly not going to hold that against him when looking at a full picture view of his time here.
Where Aldridge does deserve credit though is that, unlike Kawhi, he was able to smooth over the rough patches in his relationship with the Spurs and remain with the team. People forget it wasn’t always sunshine and roses for Aldridge and the Spurs.
During the summer of 2017, Aldridge went to Pop and told him point-blank that he wanted to be traded. As Pop tells it, Aldridge wasn’t feeling confident, wasn’t sure that the fit between him and the Spurs was working, and felt it was best if they parted ways. But to his credit, and Pop’s, the two came to an agreement that kept LMA in San Antonio. The big man even got the sometimes surly leader of the Spurs to admit that he had been the one mismanaging his star player. And after that tense summer, Aldridge took off.
From 2017 to 2019, Aldridge played some of the best basketball of his career. He was the engine of the Spurs offense and posted some of the highest-scoring and most efficient nights of his life. As a result of his efforts he made two All-Star teams and was named to the All-NBA Second Team in 2018.
When Aldridge was on there were few players in the league who could stop him. I still remember watching him torch the Oklahoma City Thunder for a career-high 56 points during a double-overtime win back in 2019. Everyone in the building and everyone watching on TV knew that the ball was going to LaMarcus, that he was going to go to his patented turnaround jumper, and that he was probably going to make the shot. He was simply unstopable.
Altogether, Aldridge used his time in San Antonio to rack up three All-Star appearances and two All-NBA selections. He ranks 10th on the franchise’s all-time points scored list, 10th in win shares, 7th in blocks, and 8th in offensive rebounds. While playing for the Spurs he also hit impressive marks of 18,000 points and 8,000 rebounds, becoming the first player since 2006 to hit those numbers.
The only thing you can hold against Aldridge is that he didn’t win a championship with San Antonio and if that’s the only bone you have to pick then it says a lot about what Aldridge was able to accomplish. From the moment he arrived in San Antonio he was outstanding. A dominant player on the court and the consummate professional off of it.
Wherever LaMarcus Aldridge ends up next we wish him the best. I truly hope that he’s able to win a championship before he calls it a career or at the very least makes the NBA Finals. One thing is certain though, whenever he does return to the AT&T Center the San Antonio Spurs faithful will give him the thunderous standing ovation he deserves so much.