Houston Rockets: The LaMarcus Aldridge Era?

Mar 11, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots against the Houston Rockets during the first quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 11, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) shoots against the Houston Rockets during the first quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports /

After a rather uneventful NBA Draft week in which Jahlil Okafor looked ecstatic to join the Philadelphia 76ers, the madness that usually comes hand-in-hand with the NBA’s free agency period is finally here.

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According to several sources around the league, coveted power forward LaMarcus Aldridge will test free agency’s waters during the offseason. And the first teams he’ll meet are the Houston Rockets (!) and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nine years into his NBA career, Aldridge seems to have finally found his pace and place on the floor. Defensively, his numbers have been pretty consistent throughout his career, however, his offensive numbers have finally reached the potential bestowed upon him as a rookie.

Like a fine wine, he keeps getting better with age.

Now, he joins Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love and DeAndre Jordan as one of the league’s most coveted free agents. The only difference is, with most of the previous players likely just using free agency as leverage, teams might actually have a chance to land him.

Aldridge is from Dallas, Texas and probably wants to escape playing behind Portland’s “biggest star” Damian Lillard, therefore, a deal with a local team with no clear-cut leader could be exactly what he wants. The Los Angeles Lakers, even if only for one last season, will keep handing over almost every single offensive possession to five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant.

So he won’t strike a deal with them — probably (read: hopefully).

On the other side, even though James Harden seems to be the Houston Rockets’ leader, and the rightful owner of most of the team’s offensive possessions, he’s still a superstar that’s actively looking for his team’s best shot. Therefore, Aldridge would probably play a bigger role for the Houston Rockets than he would for any other contender.

He also wants to win. The Portland Trail Blazers have played through expectations for the past couple of seasons, but their depth — or lack thereof — has handed them some early exits during the playoffs. The Houston Rockets miraculously reached the Western Conference Finals, and even though they lost in five games to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors, you could argue that if they were healthier they could’ve had a chance at advancing.

Aldridge would only make them deeper and way more dangerous.

The backcourt is the center of most of Houston’s needs this offseason — especially at point guard. And even with James Harden, one of the league’s smartest players, leading their offense the Rockets are still missing a backup point guard that can handle the ball once teams start putting Harden through full-court pressure. Thus, looking for a point guard like Brandon Knight or Goran Dragic should be the team’s top priority.

Also, most of Aldridge’s shots come from a place they wouldn’t even touch with a ten-foot pole — the mid-range. So he might not be exactly what Daryl Morey’s offensive scheme needs.

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Or he could be exactly what they need.

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An efficient mid-range shooter like Aldridge could diversify the Rockets’ offense by giving them the only weapon they were missing throughout the 2014-15 NBA season.

By actively pursuing — and eventually landing — the Trail Blazer’s All-Star, the Houston Rockets’ starting five would vastly improve by replacing whatever’s left of Josh Smith with Aldridge.

It remains to be seen where exactly Aldridge will end up — if he ultimately were to leave Portland — however, whoever ends up getting him will turn into one of the most powerful teams in the Western Conference. In the Houston Rockets’ case, landing a top-notch power-forward like Aldridge would not only turn them into an immediate favorite for the Western Conference title, but a true contender for the NBA Championship.

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