The bench just got a little more crowded for the stacked Brooklyn Nets after LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the team. Last week, the San Antonio Spurs and the seven-time All-Star agreed to a contract buyout, which gave Aldridge the opportunity to sign a free agent deal with a championship contender.
Aldridge joins Blake Griffin as veteran big men who recently joined the Nets after contract buyouts from their former clubs. The Detroit Pistons and Griffin agreed to a buyout a couple weeks ago and Griffin joined the Nets to bolster their bench.
“It’s just kind of crazy how it all comes together,” said Griffin. “In the beginning of the season, if you’d said that James and LaMarcus and I would end up with the Nets, everybody’s betting against that.”
The Nets look much different than they did at the start of the season. After landing James Harden in a four-team deal ten games into the season, the Nets finally had their Big 3 in place to chase a championship.
As the trade deadline approached, teams like the Denver Nuggets and Miami Heat made several big moves with the intent on making deep runs in the postseason.
The Nets countered by swooping in and snagging Aldridge. The move gives them even more depth at the big man spot, while preventing a Eastern Conference foe like the Miami Heat from acquiring Aldridge.
The Heat were front runners to add Aldridge, but the Nets pulled off a big coup to bring him to Brooklyn.
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Blake and Aldridge Join Brooklyn Bench Mob
Aldridge, averaged 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds for the San Antonio Spurs this season. He was relegated to coming off the bench after he returned from an early-season injury.
Over his 15-season career with the Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs, Aldridge averaged 19.5 ppg and 8.3 rebounds. He arrived in San Antonio in 2015 after the Spurs ended their championship run. Every season, it seemed like Aldridge grew farther and farther away from a shot at winning a title.
“I just have a ton of respect for him,” said Blake. “He’s a basketball purist, loves basketball, loves to work on his game.”
With the trade market pretty slim, the Spurs and Aldridge agreed on a buyout.
“LaMarcus has been a great teammate,” explained Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. “This a win-win for both LaMarcus and the club.”
Kevin Durant has not played since mid-February and the Nets are keeping him fresh for a postseason run. When Durant returns and Brooklyn’s Big 3 is fully operational, Brooklyn’s bench mob gets even stronger with Aldridge.
The current bench unit includes Griffin, Jeff Green, Bruce Brown, Nic Claxton, Tyler Johnson, and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.
“We’ll adjust and adapt as we go and do the best we can to put the team in the best position to win and to grow,” said head coach Steve Nash.
Just a couple seasons ago, Aldridge was capable of scoring 40-plus on any given night. The Nets have an additional scoring weapon in reserve in case Durant goes down in the postseason.
On Deck: West Bottom Feeders
Six out of the next seven games for the Nets are at home in Brooklyn. They have a single-game trip to Chicago to play the Bulls (19-25) next Sunday.
The next two games for the Nets should be cake walks against two of the worst teams in the Western Conference. The Minnesota Timberwolves (11-35) and Houston Rockets (13-32) visiting the Big Apple. The Rockets get a crack at their ex-teammate Harden.
The Nets play the New York Knicks (24-22), New Orleans Pelicans (20-25), and LA Lakers (30-17) next week. The Knicks currently occupy the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Lakers recently added Andre Drummond after he secured a contract buyout with the Cleveland Cavs.
The Nets are favorites at +175 odds to win the 2021 NBA Championship at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas after LeBron James injured his ankle and the Lakers slipped to second on the futures board behind the Nets.