How Will Nets Fill LaMarcus Aldridge’s Roster Spot? Here Are 5 Options

LaMarcus Aldridge

Getty Former Nets center LaMarcus Aldridge watches his shot in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Barclays Center on April 10, 2021 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.

The Nets, with their nonstop stream of roster-shaking transactions and injury-related absences this season, have grown accustomed to a sort of revolving door as it relates to their daily lineups.

After LaMarcus Aldridge’s abrupt retirement announcement earlier this week, Brooklyn must adjust again.

The good news for the Nets? Even in the wake of Aldridge’s departure, Brooklyn has options at center with DeAndre Jordan, Nic Claxton and perhaps even Blake Griffin in a small-ball lineup.

With that in mind, “Brooklyn will probably want to use the roster spot created by Aldridge’s retirement on a ball handler,” ESPN’s Kevin Pelton wrote in a story that published Thursday. “The Nets lost point guard Chris Chiozza to a metacarpal fracture in his right hand during Tuesday’s win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. With James Harden (hamstring strain), Kyrie Irving (personal reasons) and Tyler Johnson (knee soreness) also unavailable for that game, Brooklyn was forced to play point guard by committee.

“Irving returned to the lineup Wednesday, but the Nets could still use another reliable ball handler until Harden and Johnson rejoin him on the court.”

Which guard might the Nets look to pluck off the wire to pad their depth as the postseason approaches in about a month?

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5 Guards That Nets Could Look to Target

Isaiah Thomas — IT signed with the Pelicans on a 10-day contract earlier this month, but New Orleans opted not to re-sign him. The 5-foot-9 guard, who had been away for 14 months before signing with the Pelicans, played in three games for them, averaging 7.7 points. He’s averaged 18.1 over 528 games in his NBA career. Several teams are reportedly interested in Thomas’ services, though Evan Massey of Hoops Analysis didn’t include the Nets in his recent report.

Jamal Crawford — In a recent interview with Nets Daily, Crawford said he’s staying ready for his next opportunity. Now 41, Crawford, a three-time Sixth Man of the Year award winner, last played in the NBA eight months ago… as a member of the Nets. His stint with Brooklyn didn’t last long, though; he played in only one game as a hamstring injury prevented him from having an impact for the Nets in the bubble. Crawford has played for nine different teams over this 20-year career, but still doesn’t have an NBA championship under his belt. Joining these Nets would give him perhaps one last opportunity to chase one.

Jeremy Lin — Lin, who spent two seasons with the Nets from 2016-18, hasn’t played in the NBA since 2019, when he won an NBA championship as a member of the Toronto Raptors. The 32-year-old’s familiarity with the organization gives him added appeal for the Nets, who have only 17 games left in the regular season.

Dion Waiters — The 29-year-old Waiters took to Instagram in December to express sentiments about possibly retiring from the NBA, as noted by the Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. Waiters played for the defending champion Lakers last season, though he lasted only seven games, and Los Angeles didn’t want him back for this season. As the Nets eye a championship run, joining the Nets could be Waiters’ chance at a slice of revenge. He’s averaged 1.4 3-pointers over 419 games in his NBA career.

Quinn Cook — At 28, Cook is the youngest player on this list. The Cavaliers signed him to two 10-day contracts in March before deciding not to hang onto him. The sharpshooter and two-time NBA champ averaged 0.9 3-pointers on 46.2 percent shooting in seven games with Cleveland.

If the Nets look to replace Aldridge with another big, Nets Wire suggested names like Thon Maker, Tyson Chandler and Ian Mahinmi as possible solutions.

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No Replacing Aldridge

All of that being said, the Nets won’t be able to replace the impact Aldridge was capable of providing. In fives games with Brooklyn, he made five starts and averaged 26 minutes with 12.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.2 blocks per game. Even beyond those tangible feats, Aldridge offered a dynamic presence as a 6-foot-11 center who could stretch the floor with his 3-point ability.

Peloton elaborated more in his ESPN story:

The Nets may particularly miss Aldridge in a potential playoff matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers and their All-Star center Joel Embiid. Aldridge presented the possible best of both worlds against Embiid with the ability to stretch Embiid out to the 3-point line on offense while creditably defending him on the other end. Without Aldridge in the lineup, Embiid was dominant in Wednesday’s Sixers win over a short-handed Brooklyn team, scoring 39 points in 33 minutes.

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