In a league typically dominated by size, a possible LaMarcus Aldridge move could alter that landscape of the NBA.
According to Jason Quick of the Oregonian, Aldridge wants to leave the Portland Trail Blazers. His seven seasons of service in Oregon appear to be wearing on him given the multiple changes the team has faced. If the Blazers are not going to be contending anytime soon, the big man wants out allegedly.
Aldridge is a terrific player with excellent touch both around the basket and from distance. In the right situation, he could lead a team to a deep postseason run. This begs the question: Are the Golden State Warriors an ideal fit?
It almost feels like a trick question given the talent the Dubs have on board. Thus, if the former Longhorn is available, the Warriors must make their due diligence and look into acquiring the big man.
The front-office must consider making everyone on the roster not named Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson available. Both are young players that are locked into awesome contracts.
Aldridge is entering his prime and will have two years left on his deal once the 2013 offseason officially kicks off. His talents mesh perfectly with the way the Dubs play and in addition he will help out in areas where Golden State struggles a little.
For instance, Mark Jackson’s group only converted 41.5 percent of their shots in post-up situations in 2012-13 per Synergy Sports. Those areas were largely reserved to David Lee and Carl Landry.
Landry has officially opted out of his contract and it’s debatable whether he will be back in the Bay. Lee is a solid ambidextrous player that can play with his back to the basket, but Aldridge he is not.
Aldridge concluded the 2012-13 regular season by converting 47.6 percent of his shots in post-up situations. For those that are worried that it might be an aberration, Synergy Sports also tells us he converted 49.6 percent of his shots in the same scenarios in 2011-12.
Thus, the Warriors will create higher percentage shots around the basket if they acquire the talented big man. It’s worth noting that Golden State loves to run pick-and-rolls and pick-and-pops.
The Dubs use their big men as pressure release points from the free throw line extended when faced with traps. From there, they are expected to drive to the hoop, find the open man or take the open jumper.
Per Hoopdata, Golden State was seventh in the league in shot attempts from 16-to-23 feet during the 2012-13 season. They converted 40.6 percent of their looks from that range (sixth best in the NBA).
Again, Aldridge fits right in with the Dubs. Throughout his career, he’s consistently shot around 40 percent from 16-to-23 feet. In 2012-13, he was right at 41 percent according to Hoopdata.
In the pick-and-roll, Synergy Sports tells us he made 47.3 percent of his field goal attempts as the roll man. Even as a spot up shooter, he has value as evidenced by his 43.5 percent shooting clip in these situations.
No matter how we slice it, Aldridge’s skills perfectly complement what the Warriors do.
With Aldridge playing alongside the best shooting backcourt in the league, the Golden State offense practically becomes a Rubik’s cube for the rest of the league.
If the Warriors acquire Aldridge, logic dictates they must send out talent and possibly overwhelm Portland with an offer.
A swap involving Lee works for Golden State, but the Trail Blazers probably want no part of it. The left-handed big man will have a cap figure of $15.4 million when his contract expires at the conclusion of the 2015-16 season.
As Zach Lowe noted over at Grantland, there is a strong possibility teams are going to be far more judicious with players they acquire going forward. Talent must now be compensated as close as possible to market value and contracts have to be relatively short.
This is the best way to mitigate mistakes when bringing in mid-tier talent. And truthfully, that’s exactly what Lee is. Consequently, he is an unattractive asset.
Instead, the Warriors might have a better chance of offering up Andrew Bogut and Harrison Barnes in exchange for Aldridge. The Aussie’s deal expires at the end of 2013-14 while Barnes can potentially remain locked up until 2016-17 on his rookie deal.
Portland gets a solid swingman in return and close to $20 million in cap room in the 2014 summer when a vast hoard of impact players hit the free agent market.
Keep in mind, the Trail Blazers haven’t exactly been huge players on this front in the last couple of seasons. Signing Wesley Matthews and Jamal Crawford might qualify as their biggest free agent acquisitions of the last decade.
Portland also tendered an offer sheet to restricted free agent Roy Hibbert in July 2012. The Indiana Pacers matched it and left Portland high and dry. However, this is where the new collective bargaining agreement comes into play.
Once the big names such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony have signed new deals (all three have early termination options allowing them to hit the open market in 2014), the rest of the available players will be looking for teams willing to pay for their services.
Since the luxury tax penalties will be much harsher starting in 2013-14, teams might become more fiscally responsible. This opens things up for Portland to offer lucrative short-term contracts.
Take this example: General manager Neil Olshey can potentially offer Chris Bosh a three-year $45 million deal in July 2014 and build around him, Damian Lillard and Nicolas Batum. However, there is a chance that this core might not cut it for the Portland brass.
Thus, Golden State can tweak a potential trade offer and help out the Blazers by offering Kent Bazemore (or Draymond Green), Bogut and Barnes in exchange for Aldridge, Wesley Matthews and Joel Freeland.
There are probably other versions of this trade that could be negotiated.
Portland gives up talent but also gains just about an extra $10 million in cap space for the 2014 summer. The added room under the salary cap gives them a chance to add Marcin Gortat on top of Bosh.
These moves work if the Trail Blazers renounce their free agents at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season and let J.J. Hickson walk in the 2013 offseason. In the event they re-sign Hickson, it probably decreases their projected cap room for 2014 by approximately $6 million at most.
Thus, if Olshey is willing to entertain proposals, there might just be a move to be made with the Warriors.
And boy would they listen…
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