Asked if the rumors are a distraction for the Spurs as they prepare for Friday’s preseason finale against the Houston Rockets, Gasol said, “Not at all. It hasn’t been brought up or anything. But it’s weird.” Gasol said it helps that the players learned long ago to focus only on what they can control. “Some things are completely out of your control,” he said. “I always say, you control what you can control. You control what’s in your hands. Wake up with a smiling face, go to work and feel blessed. You have an incredible job. If stuff happens because people make certain decisions about you, this is a business at the end of the day, and you just continue to do what you do and be who you are. Don’t let that affect your daily routine. Don’t let that affect your behavior. Just continue to be true to yourself and control what you can control.”
When Aldridge opted to sign with the Spurs, he was led to believe he’d be the future of the franchise in much the way Tim Duncan took the mantle from David Robinson. The belief was that Aldridge would spend a year learning the “Spurs’ way” and would then lead the team forward with Kawhi Leonard as his wingman. That was the plan as Aldridge’s camp understood it. That is not how it’s playing out. Leonard has emerged as the better fit as “the franchise player” and Aldridge is being pushed into the No. 2 role (and sometimes No. 3) depending on how the Spurs play. Leonard finished second in Most Valuable Player voting last season.
This has become a source of frustration, mainly because the Spurs are not going to be the championship contender Aldridge thought he was joining and he won’t be the focal-point guy who becomes an All-Star. The other part, according to those around the situation, is that Gregg Popovich isn’t coddling him or treating him like the primary guy. Not that Aldridge requires that, but it’s becoming clear that he may not be the guy the Spurs thought he’d be.
Sources close to the situation say that there has been zero talk of trading Aldridge and that any suggestion of the Spurs being open to it is misplaced. But what those around the situation are seeing (and talking about) is that the honeymoon for both the Spurs and Aldridge is clearly over. Both sides were open to the learning process the first year, but now both sides seem to want the other to deliver on their end of the promise.
Those close to the situation suggest Aldridge may not be happy at the moment. The belief is the Spurs pitched him on becoming the center of their offense when they recruited him in 2015, and that hasn't occurred with the rise of Kawhi Leonard. However, a team source said there are currently no problems with Aldridge, adding he is apart of the Spurs' future.
In the start of year two, it appears the LaMarcus Aldridge experiment in San Antonio is in danger of collapsing. The Express-News has been informed by a league source the Spurs are open to trading the former Longhorn should the right package surface. Those within the Spurs refuted the suggestion, saying no talks have occurred with any team.
This isn't the first time rumors surrounding Aldridge's future with San Antonio have surfaced. Last season, there were rumblings in NBA circles that Aldridge wanted to be traded before the All-Star break, maybe to a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Spurs didn't bite, though, won 67 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
I’m doing what I can to confirm these, and will update this story as soon as I’m able. In the meanwhile, we’re left wondering what exactly might be going wrong. UPDATE: I heard back from my Spurs source, and the team denies Jackie MacMullan’s report.
Some in NBA circles speculate Aldridge may not be with the Spurs by the end of his deal, which runs through the end of next season, with a player option worth roughly $22 million for the 2018-19 season.
Jeff McDonald: FWIW, Spurs sources are denying trade talks involving LaMarcus Aldridge have taken place.
The Boston Celtics are in a position to trade for a player of Aldridge's caliber, should he become available, due to the value of the players on their roster and future picks. "Sources were telling me the other day that LaMarcus Aldridge may not even finish the year with the Spurs. That experiment hasn't quite worked out the way they'd hoped. I think there's going to be a lot of shifting around. That (Nets) pick is going to be very, very valuable," said Jackie Macmullen.
The odds are against any deal happening. Signing Gasol to a two-year deal (with a player option for 2017-18) is something of an all-in move, and even if Gasol opts out after this season, the Aldridge-Leonard combo is a shiny lure for free agents. But if the season unfolds the wrong way, here's betting the Spurs at least listen.
January 26, 2021 | 7:37 pm EST Update
Eric Woodyard: 1 year after Kobe Bryant’s death, Cavs guard Collin Sexton tells ESPN that he’ll continue to “live by the Mamba” by carrying that Kobe mentality with him on the court. Sexton, aka “Young Bull,” is averaging a career-best 24.8 points per game in his third season. pic.twitter.com/FNefooiAEr