By completing a series of moves on the first day of free agency, the San Antonio Spurs are in pole position to reload with the potential signing of star forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
Widely considered the biggest name to switch uniforms in free agency, Aldridge has been long rumoured to leave the Portland Trail Blazers and return to his home state of Texas to join the Spurs.
San Antonio, however, didn’t possess the neccessary salary cap space when free agency began to bring in Aldridge on a maximum contract. To create the space, they traded centre Tiago Splitter’s $8.5 million contract for next season to the Atlanta Hawks, while receiving no salary back.
They also re-signed Danny Green, one of the most coveted 3-point shooting defensive specialists, to a four-year, $45m deal that is perceived to be below his market value.
— Kenny Lin (@KennyLinTweets) July 2, 2015
The transactions came after the Spurs locked-in restricted free agent and 2014 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to a five-year, $90m contract at the start of the day to take care of their topmost priority of the offseason.
With additional cap space and the core of the team intact, San Antonio entered their meeting with Aldridge yesterday as the front-runners to land the power forward’s signature.
The 29-year-old has already met with the Los Angeles Lakers – who reportedly didn’t make a strong impression – and then with Phoenix after the Spurs.
Aldridge, who has spent his entire nine-year career with Portland, averaged 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds this past season to be named to the All-NBA 2nd Team.
Another star big man Kevin Love took out any drama from his free agency by announcing a return to the Cleveland Cavaliers to take care of “unfinished business”.
Love revealed his decision in a letter to The Players’ Tribune, citing his absence from the Finals due to a season-ending shoulder injury as part of the motivation to remain with Cleveland.
“After Game 1 of the NBA Finals, that’s when it really struck me. Sitting on the sidelines, I never
wanted to play in a game more than that one. I had dreamed of playing in the NBA Finals and I just wanted to help my guys win,” Love wrote.
“I couldn’t have been prouder of them as they poured their blood, sweat and tears onto the court.”
He added: “We’re all on the same page and we’re all in. We have unfinished business and now it’s time to get back to work.”
— Newy Scruggs (@newyscruggs) July 2, 2015
Rather than taking a short-term deal, as his team-mate LeBron James is likely to do, Love and the Cavaliers agreed to a five-year, $110m contract.
Cleveland are also nearing an agreement to bring back forward Tristan Thompson with a deal that could exceed $80m over five years. Thompson is represented by Rich Paul, who is also James’ agent.
Teams can’t officially sign players until July 9.
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