Greatest free agency signings in NBA history: 10. LaMarcus Aldridge- San Antonio Spurs, 2015
Historically, the San Antonio Spurs, who are situated in the league’s smallest market, have struggled to attract top free agents. Fortunately, the team has maintained its spot among the NBA’s elite with two decades worth of smart trades, shrewd drafting, and finding quality players along the margins.
The one exception came in 2015 when they signed Texas native LaMarcus Aldridge away from the Portland Trail Blazers.
Fresh off of a season in which he averaged 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds with the Blazers, Aldridge was viewed as an heir apparent to the aging Tim Duncan, as they had similar offensive styles (though Duncan was a much better defender in his prime).
Statistically, Aldridge put up his usual stats: as of 2019, Aldridge has averaged 20.0 points and 8.4 boards with a 22.3 PER and .184 WS/48, substantially better than what he did in Portland. Despite those numbers, however, Aldridge has often grumbled about not being the focal point of the Spurs offense and has even requested trades out of San Antonio because of his perceived diminished role.
Here’s the thing, Aldridge has pretty much hit his ceiling as a player. He always seemed like more of a supplementary star than a player that you build your franchise around, so the idea that he was going to be the next Spurs big man who would keep the championship train rolling was always a bit preposterous.
Still, he has helped the Spurs maintain their standard of excellence in terms of playoff appearances over the last few years and he is the first man to bring up whenever someone says that small market teams can’t nab big free agents.