The San Antonio Spurs are leaving nothing to chance and has called on its big guns to compose one of the most powerful recruitment team, involving Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and general manager R.C. Buford to sign the most coveted free agent on the market, Texas native LaMarcus Aldridge, various media reported.
Aldridge, who spent his first nine NBA seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, averaged a career high 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per outing during the 2014-15 NBA Season. With a four-year, $80 million contract with the Spurs, Aldridge could be the next franchise of the San Antonio's storied NBA history. For his part, Duncan signed a two-year, $10 million deal with the Spurs while Manu Ginobili inked a two-year, $5.7 million contract, said Cross Map.
The team is seeking its 6th NBA title and Aldridge could provide the last link for that dream.
One tiny problem though, Aldridge has been using jersey #12, the same retired jersey number used by Bruce Bowen, one of the greatest small power forwards in the San Antonio Spurs who was also part of the team's NBA Championship titles in 2003, 2005 and 2007. Bowen, who retired in 2009, was also named to NBA All-Defensive teams for eight consecutive years (2003-2008), the last five seasons as a first team selection.
But Bowen is fine with un-retiring his jersey. He told the San Antonio Express-News, "You want LaMarcus to feel part of the family. If I can have a hand in that, shoot, why not? I don't play anymore. I hope it helps [Aldridge] feel comfortable. If he's comfortable, the sky's the limit for him here."
And indeed, Aldridge is comfortable in his new home. He told reporters in a press conference Friday, "You've seen the TNT interviews, right. He was like that but a little bit nicer. Pop isn't going to tell you sweet stories or try to make up things. He's a very honest person. He's very caring, but he's not going to sweet-talk you. That came across clear in the meeting. He had good things to say, but our meeting wasn't an hour of him just sweet-talking me. It was basically just talking basketball, and that was awesome," reported ESPN.go.com.
He continued, "When you're making such a big decision, you're never going to be 100 percent right away. Leaving the organization I was at for nine years, where I've had roots and I'm embedded in their history -- it is never easy to leave. There were moments I did waver because I was leaving and going to something new. Talking to R.C. more, talking to Pop more, those guys made me feel comfortable. They made it feel like home. They made me feel safe to take this leap of faith that so far I've been fine with."
Meanwhile, the San Antonio Spurs has announced that they have traded center Tiago Splitter to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for a protected 2017 second round draft pick and the draft rights to Georgios Printezis.
Splitter appeared in 52 games for the Silver and Black in 2014-15, averaging 8.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 19.8 minutes, while shooting .558 (169-303) from the floor. The center has appeared in 311 career NBA games, averaging 8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 19.8 minutes, while shooting .560 (978-1,746) from the field.
The Brazilian native appeared in 65 career playoff games in five seasons with the Spurs, averaging 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 19.2 minutes. San Antonio signed Splitter on July 12, 2010 after originally drafting him with the 28th overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft.
Printezis, 6-9/240, currently plays for Olympiacos Piraeus in Greece. Last season, he appeared in 20 games and averaged a career-high 12.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in 25.3 minutes. In his 12 seasons as a professional, the forward has appeared in 173 contests, averaging 9.0 points and 3.6 rebounds in 20.0 minutes.