Last Wednesday Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said the Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge have mutually agreed to part ways. After Popovich’s remarks, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported the Spurs are trying to work on a trade for Aldridge instead of having to buyout his deal.
Two teams that have had their named mentioned in reports for Aldridge are the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics. Let’s look at each rumor.
The Miami Heat
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald Thursday, the Heat have explored interest in a trade for Aldridge, according to a league source.
Then, on Sunday, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.com reported this (H/T HoopsRumors.com):
Miami has also dangled veterans Avery Bradley, Maurice Harkless and Meyers Leonard to match salaries as part of a trade package for San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge, league sources told HoopsHype. The Heat would also have to add another minimum contract such as either Chris Silva or KZ Okpala and draft pick compensation to make a trade worthwhile for San Antonio.
Bobby Marks of ESPN.com created a video Thursday of possible Aldridge trade scenarios and the challenge of moving his $24 million salary.
As Marks said, any team above the cap trading for Aldridge would have to send back at minimum, $19 million in salary. There are three hurdles to keep an eye on for an Aldridge trade from the Spurs’ standpoint.
- San Antonio is trying to stay under the luxury tax.
- The Spurs only have one vacant roster spot.
- How much of the Spurs’ 2021 cap space are they willing to move into if they have to take back a player(s) who is not on an expiring contract this season.
Creating an Aldridge to Miami trade is quite difficult unless a third team is brought in because of San Antonio’s limited roster space.
One example Marks brought up was Aldridge for Kelly Olynyk ($12.5 million), Avery Bradley ($5.6 million), and Maurice Harkless ($3.6 million). While this trade would work since all three players contracts add up to $21.7 million, San Antonio would have to waive or trade a player to make the 3-for-1 player swap work.
As Marks and Jackson discussed, one key question the Heat would face is if they even want to move on from Olynyk for Aldridge? Jackson also reported the Heat actually have more interest in Spurs forward Rudy Gay than Aldridge.
As for the trade scenario Scotto reported, it would take Bradley, Harkless, Leonard, and one extra player to make this move happen.
A 4-for-1 swap would be complicated because the Spurs would either have to get a 3rd team involved to send two players to, or San Antonio would have to waive two players on their roster. Plus, this is probably a no from the Spurs because Leonard would be involved, who is currently suspended by the Heat for anti-semitic remarks he made during the All-Star break.
The Boston Celtics
Scotto also reported this Sunday with regards to the Celtics:
Some executives around the league who spoke with HoopsHype believe the Boston Celtics could join the mix to acquire Aldridge using their $28.5 million trade exception despite Danny Ainge recently suggesting the team will most likely use the exception during the offseason.
One key difference between this and the Heat report is that the Celtics currently aren’t exploring interest in Aldridge, instead, other teams think the Celtics will explore interest in Aldridge in the near future.
The key factor to keep in mind is that Boston can’t cross the $138.9 hard cap line in any transaction. So for instance, an Aldridge for any two of the following players from Boston would work: Jeff Teague, Javonte Green, Semi Ojeleye, Carsen Edwards.
While this could work, any such deal would put the Celtics in the luxury tax. The two questions for Boston would be, 1) do they want to move any of those four players for Aldridge, and 2) are they willing to go into the tax for Aldridge, while still having Tristan Thompson, Daniel Theis, and Robert Williams on the roster as bigs?
The Celtics could stay under the tax if they made an Aldridge for Thompson swap, but that would mean they’d be willing to move Thompson and the Spurs would have to be willing to take on the second year of Thompson’s deal into next season.
With the NBA trade deadline now 11 days away on March 25, more rumors of teams with interest in Aldridge or other Spurs players could be made public in the coming days.