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Report: Spurs expected to trade, rather than buy out, LaMarcus Aldridge

Spurs big LaMarcus Aldridge and Heat big Meyers Leonard

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 15: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Miami Heat on January 15, 2020 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

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LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs are parting ways.

Via trade or buyout?

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

All indications are that his relocation will come via trade, as sources say interested GMs have been told that there are five teams firmly in the mix.

An Aldridge trade is definitely possible. But likely? I’m skeptical.

Aldridge is earning $24 million in the final year of his contract. At age 35, he has lost a step defensively, and his rebounding has slipped. It will be difficult for a team match his salary without sending out players more valuable than him.

By talking up trade interest, San Antonio might just be trying to gain leverage for a trade.

At least a few teams are still preparing for a buyout.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Should Aldridge receive a buyout, Miami, Portland and Boston are expected to be leading suitors.

The Heat are one of the few teams that could trade for Aldridge. Kelly Olynyk’s and Meyers Leonard’s contracts would make a deal feasible, though Miami might prefer Olynyk to Aldridge.

The Celtics could also take Aldridge into their Gordon Hayward trade exception. But he’s probably not worth burning that tool and accepting the accompanying real-dollar cost.

Aldridge has talked for years about returning to the Trail Blazers. But they lack logical pieces to trade.

Signing Aldridge for cheap after a buyout, though? That’d obviously appeal to many teams.

Of course, he won’t hit free agency this season if the Spurs trade him – which, for what it’s worth, they’re indicating will happen.