Brooklyn Nets fans were hyped in January 2021 when the franchise acquired All-Star guard James Harden from the Houston Rockets. Pairing him with a fellow MVP award winner in Kevin Durant and a prolific all-around player in Kyrie Irving was sure to make some noise in the Eastern Conference.
But just as important as the stars were, so were the role players the team put around them. It was important to have role players whose skillsets meshed well with those of Harden, Irving, and Durant.
One of those key role players was 7-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge was originally signed by the Nets after reaching a buyout agreement with the San Antonio Spurs in 2021. But a discovery in his heart caused him to retire that same season.
However, during the 2021-22 season, in a shocking turn of events, Aldridge was cleared by doctors to resume basketball activities and agreed to return to the Nets. Unfortunately for the veteran big man, he got buried at the end of Brooklyn’s bench for most of the season and ultimately fell out of Steve Nash’s coaching rotation.
Aldridge is not expected to return to the Nets this season or any other team for that matter. During a recent episode of their podcast “The Crossover,” Howard Beck and Chris Mannix of “Sports Illustrated” hinted that retirement could once again be on the mind of Aldridge, noting him calling it a career is ‘likely’.
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Suns Urged to Target Aldridge in Free Agency
Aldridge’s retirement may come as a surprise to some, but really it shouldn’t. After being phased out of Nash’s rotation, most expected Nets free agents such as Aldridge and Blake Griffin to hit the ground running, meeting with other teams during the free agency period. But to this point, there has been very little news related to Aldridge and where he will play next season.
But as it stands now, Aldridge is an active NBA player and a seasoned veteran whose presence would be an asset to any team. While retirement may be on the brain of the ex-Nets big man, Brett Siegel of “Sports Illustrated” thinks Aldridge could find a new home on the Phoenix Suns.
“Not many teams are looking to add a veteran like him at this point in the offseason, but the Phoenix Suns still have an open roster spot and could utilize LaMarcus Aldridge in more ways than one.
Bringing back Deandre Ayton and Bismack Biyombo in free agency this offseason, as well as having Dario Saric return from a knee injury he suffered in the 2021 NBA Finals, it would not appear as if the Suns need another frontcourt talent at this time,” Siegel writes.
“However, Aldridge can play both the power forward and center positions, providing some much-needed depth behind starting forward Jae Crowder on Phoenix’s depth chart.”
Celtics Linked to Aldridge as Potential Landing Spot
The Suns are not the only team that could be looking to add the veteran big man. So too could the Nets’ Eastern Conference Rival, Boston Celtics, according to Paul Kasabian of Bleacher Report. Having an injury-prone big man in Robert Williams, adding Aldridge to a group of veteran centers that already includes Al Horford could pay big dividends.
“If the Celtics do anything, it could be to add some more depth to the frontcourt. With that in mind, there are a few forwards or bigs on the market if the C’s feel they need reinforcements, either now or during the season. They include LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Montrezl Harrell, DeMarcus Cousins, and Hassan Whiteside,” Kasabian writes.
“Aldridge provides size at 6’11” and range and could be the best fit. He averaged 12.9 points on 55.0 percent shooting and 5.5 rebounds in 22.3 minutes per game. The longtime veteran isn’t going to provide 25-30 minutes a night, but he could slide in as needed and hop on a championship roster for the first time in his career.”
In the short time he was with the Nets, Aldridge was a contributor, with his size and ability to space the floor with his midrange shooting. It will be interesting to see if he indeed retires or lands with another team.