The risk and price tag in acquiring San Antonio Spurs star Kawhi Leonard may be too rich for the Celtics this offseason, but the Celtics still cannot just sit idle and watch Leonard land with a team like the 76ers. If the Spurs do, in fact, trade Leonard – expect his All-Star running mate with the Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge, to also become available.
Aldridge’s relationship with coach Gregg Popovich and Spurs brass has been just as rocky as Leonard’s has at times, and it was Aldridge who was on the trade block first. The Spurs were reportedly trying to trade Aldridge in exchange for a top 10 pick in last year’s draft. Not too long ago, Aldrige reportedly even called his buddy Damien Lillard in Portland to see if Blazers GM Neil Olshey would be interested in bringing him back.
But Popovich and the Spurs made amends with Aldridge over the course of last summer and he signed a three-year extension with the club in October.
Still, it’s hard to imagine Popovich riding out his storied coaching career with a disgruntled 33-year-old as the centerpiece. Aldridge becomes even more expendable if the Spurs were to trade for a young building block like Brandon Ingram or Markelle Fultz.
LaMarcus Aldridge Kawhi Leonard NBA Trade Rumors
The possibility of the Spurs looking at an Aldridge trade to follow a Kawhi deal was first raised on Bill Simmons’ podcast this week, with guest Kevin O’Connor.
There are several reasons why Aldridge would be appealing to Danny Ainge and the Celtics. The Celtics have long coveted Pelicans big man Anthony Davis (who doesn’t covet The Brow?). Ainge sees Davis as the missing piece to the Celtics being able to topple the Golden State dynasty. But all indications are that New Orleans is not going to even entertain trading Davis in the next two years.
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Aldridge is very much the poor man’s version of Davis, and the Celtics would not need to give up as much in terms of assets as they would in a trade for Leonard. Any team that trades for Leonard also needs to be wary of the swingman bolting in free agency next season.