LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the top unrestricted free agents this summer, and he should have no shortage of suitors if he decides to leave the Trail Blazers. Aldridge is reportedly favoring the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs in free agency if he leaves Portland, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
Following up on that report early Thursday ESPN's Chris Broussard reported that a source close to Aldridge said there's a "99.9 percent chance" he's leaving Portland.
The Aldridge rumors come on the heels of speculation about a possible Lakers trade for DeMarcus Cousins. The Lakers could reportedly send the No. 2 pick, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson to Sacramento for Cousins. Imagine Los Angeles doing that deal, then signing Aldridge to a max contract. Kobe Bryant's final season would suddenly get a lot more interesting.
The other teams rumored to be in play for Aldridge include the Mavericks, Hawks, Knicks and Cavaliers.
Stein points to Portland's decision to trade veteran wing Nic Batum for Gerald Henderson and 19-year-old forward Noah Vonleh as one sign Aldridge could be leaving. Aldridge had previously stated his desire to remain in Portland, but that may be changing after an injury-plagued season (for both himself and the team) that ended with a first round playoff loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Aldridge placed No. 4 on our list of every NBA free agent this summer. Does this rumor make sense? Let's investigate.
Why it makes sense
Aldridge has spent his entire career in Portland and has made it past the first round of the playoffs just once. It might be time for a change of scenery after nine years.
The Spurs offer the ability to play with a soon-to-be 24-year-old two-way force in Kawhi Leonard, to go along with what will be the last season or two of Tim Duncan's career. The Lakers would afford Aldridge the opportunity to live in L.A. and potentially pair with Cousins in the frontcourt.
It's tough to leave behind Damian Lillard and an adoring fanbase, but the Spurs and Lakers could both potentially be appealing destinations.
Why it doesn't make sense
Our Tom Ziller laid out a convincing case for why staying in Portland is Aldridge's best bet. Essentially, it's about taking the fifth year of a contract only Portland can offer, sticking with Lillard and staying with a respected owner in Paul Allen.
Aldridge has talked about wanting to be the best Trail Blazers player ever, and it isn't happening if he leaves town.
At this point, it seems like Aldridge is set to leave town. A lot can change, however, between now and the start of free agency.
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