LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the greatest Trail Blazers of all time.
From 2006 to 2015, Aldridge filled the paint for Portland and for much of that time he was one of the best power forwards in the NBA.
He surprised many in the summer of 2015 when he bolted in free agency, signing with the San Antonio Spurs.
LA had a solid run in his home state but now it appears that time is coming to an end.
According to reports, the Spurs and Aldridge have agreed to part ways. Aldridge is on record saying he would like to end his career in Portland. In fact, he has talked about a desire to team up with Damian Lillard one more time.
"I keep telling (Lillard) I'm going to come back and finish [in Portland]," Aldridge told The Athletic in 2019. "That's something him and I have talked about—playing together again."
The reunion looks like it could actually happen now. The Spurs will first attempt to trade Aldridge, but it's unlikely teams will be willing to give up a lot of assets, if any, to acquire him. Aldridge is making $24M this season while averaging 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds. Statistically, it's the worst year he has had since his rookie campaign. Even so, he does still have value.
In theory, the Blazers could put together a trade package that doesn't impact the starting lineup. In this scenario, Portland would likely be trading for Aldridge to be a primary big off the bench, the back up to Nurkic being the most logical spot. In that case, Kanter would likely be added to any deal just to no create a log jam. However, the Blazers don't have a lot of contracts they could throw in to make the deal work.
Financially, a Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Kanter package would work, but one has to wonder if the Blazers would want to part with a building block like Collins or the consistency of Kanter just to bring Aldridge back. Keep in mind that Aldridge's contract expires at the end of the season. Throwing in Collins when Aldridge might just be a "rental" doesn't make a ton of sense.
A trade could happen, but it remains unlikely.
Should the Spurs not find a trade partner, the buyout market will be the next logical option. Much like the Pistons did with Blake Griffin, the Spurs could cut ties and let Aldridge become a free agent. At that point, it makes sense for the Blazers to pick up the phone and make the call.
Like I wrote about Blake Griffin, LA could slide into the starting lineup and allow Stotts to get real tricky with lineups.
The Blazers could start Aldridge at PF and move Robert Covington to small forward. In a fully healthy lineup, the Blazers would have a starting lineup of Lillard - McCollum - Covington - Aldridge - Nurkic. That's really not a downgrade from what they have at the moment.
This would give Lillard two great pick and roll options in Nurk and LA. Lillard has said before that no one ran the pick and roll with him quite like Aldridge did.
This would also allow Carmelo Anthony to keep his role as a backup power forward and allow Enes Kanter to still get big minutes in his intended role as Nurk's backup. It would also move Derrick Jones Jr. to the bench, adding a defensive-minded player to the second unit.
A reunion via the buyout market would be the best-case scenario for Portland. A vet. min deal does no damage. The Blazers could cut him at worst and have a solid power forward/center at best. There is no harm, really.
But fit, finances, and role aside, Aldridge just makes sense for the Blazers to close the loop. To complete the circle of Aldridge's career and give one of the greatest Blazers of all-time one more chance to represent the pinwheel and call Rip City home.