The Spurs may still be the frontrunners, but after meeting with free agent power forward LaMarcus Aldridge for two hours Wednesday afternoon the Phoenix Suns believe they have a chance at signing the four-time All-Star, reports CBS Sports' Ken Berger and the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro. Phoenix and San Antonio are the two teams Aldridge is considering, according to ESPN's Marc Stein.
The Suns brought an eight-man contingent to pitch Aldridge, according to Coro. The group was made up of team owner Robert Sarver, president Lon Babby, general manager Ryan McDonough, head coach Jeff Hornacek, and assistant coach Earl Watson, who is "close" with Aldridge since playing with him Portland in 2014, according to Yahoo Sports! Adrian Wojnarowski. The recently re-signed Brandon Knight was also in attendance, as was Eric Bledsoe and Tyson Chandler, who signed a four-year, $52 million deal with the Suns just hours earlier.
Aldridge was "very engaged" during the meeting ,reports Berger, and Phoenix made "a good impression" on him, according to Wojnarowski.
Sources: Suns have legitimately closed the gap in pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge. Tyson Chandler, perimeter talent. They're a real factor.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 2, 2015
The pitch was broken into four different segments, according to Coro. The first was a one-on-one conversation between Sarver and Aldridge. After that the Suns sent in Babby and McDonough. Then it was Hornacek and Watson's turn, followed by a players-only meeting with Bledsoe, Chandler and Knight. Clearly there was more basketball talk than there was during Aldridge's meeting with the Lakers.
But while Phoenix is feeling optimistic at the moment, signing Aldridge is going to take some swift cap mechanics. The Suns entered free agency with about $12 million in cap room. The Chandler and Knight contracts eat up all that space. This is why Bledsoe's inclusion in Wednesday's meeting is noteworthy. He's set to make about $14 million in each of the next four seasons and plays the same position as Knight. Trading him seemed to be the obvious move for the Suns if they were looking to create room to sign Aldridge.
Clearly, though, that's not the direction Phoenix is planning on heading in. The guess would be that if they inked Aldridge somewhere a sign-and-trade, likely involving P.J. Tucker and his $5.5 million salary, would be involved. This could be used to get Chandler, too, as illustrated by Bright Side of the Sun's Dave King:
New wrinkle thanks to followers: If Suns remain "over the cap" team, acquire Chandler via SnT, then only need to trade out $9 mil to get LMA— Dave King (@DaveKingNBA) July 1, 2015
Aldridge is unlikely to make a decision Wednesday night, according to USA Today's Sam Amick. But that Phoenix is a legitimate consideration is something no one foresaw.