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How LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the Spurs and what happens next

Aldridge's signing will leave a mark all around the league.

For the second straight day, a major free agent has decided to leave the team that drafted him and go to Texas. LaMarcus Aldridge is signing with the San Antonio Spurs, giving Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich a realistic chance at their sixth title.

There may be a few rough weeks to start the season for Aldridge as he adjusts to a new style and new teammates, but it won't take long. San Antonio is just a year removed from winning an NBA championship and adding Aldridge next to Kawhi Leonard helps extend the Spurs dynasty at least four more years.

With Aldridge's decision, these are some of the remaining questions.

Why did Aldridge leave?

This is the question that will haunt the Portland Trail Blazers for months to come. To transition flawlessly from Brandon Roy and Greg Oden to Aldridge and Damian Lillard over the past few years was an underappreciated bit of front office maneuvering. By March last season, the Trail Blazers looked like they had put the best team yet around their two franchise centerpieces and even added bench depth by grabbing Arron Afflalo at the trade deadline.

Shortly thereafter, though, Wes Matthews tore his Achilles and their entire season unraveled, ending in a five-game first-round defeat to the Memphis Grizzlies. Without the injury, if the Blazers push past Memphis and at least challenge the eventual champion Golden State Warriors, does Aldridge stay? Portland fans may always wonder.

How did the Spurs land him?

There are two answers to this question and the first is simple: they're the Spurs.

The second is basically a more elaborate version of the first answer. San Antonio has proven that it is the model franchise in all of sports with a decade and a half of excellence. While the Phoenix Suns came on strong and had a convincing pitch, they don't have Popovich, Duncan or Leonard. It also took some nifty salary cap manipulation by San Antonio to pull this off.

Aldridge and Popovich had a second meeting on Friday that, per Adrian Wojnarowski, cleared most of the remaining questions Aldridge had about signing in San Antonio. After that, his decision was simple.

Where do the Spurs go from here?

The odds are out and San Antonio has already leapfrogged the champion Warriors -- just barely -- to be the 2016 championship favorites out of the Western Conference. (Cleveland is the overall leader, which makes sense considering its easier path through the East.)

Aldridge hasn't played a style like the Spurs and the two sides will both have to adjust to each other in the coming months. But come on -- Tony Parker, Danny Green, Leonard, Aldridge and Duncan all on the same team? They'll figure it out and will duke it out with Golden State for the best record in the West. Sending Duncan out on top with his sixth NBA championship would be magical. Just as importantly, the Spurs have a post-Duncan future, with Leonard and Aldridge leading the charge.

Where do the Blazers go from here?

They go young. Matthews took an offer from the Dallas Mavericks, Robin Lopez and Afflalo signed with the New York Knicks and Nicolas Batum was traded away, leaving just Lillard and some young pieces together as the new core moving forward. Portland can test the lottery next summer and come on, isn't this franchise eventually due for some luck? The Trail Blazers aren't completely starting from scratch, so perhaps their rebuild will be a quick one.

Still, it's tough to swallow that Portland had perhaps its best team in 10 years just a few months ago and are having to start over to a degree.

Where do the Suns go from here?

It's a tough loss for Phoenix, which came out of nowhere to nearly steal Aldridge away from the Spurs. However, by adding Tyson Chandler and clearing some cap room anyway, the Suns showed they're serious about getting better and they still have the resources to do just that next summer when the cap jumps.

Unfortunately, without one more necessary piece, they're still probably on the outside looking in when the playoffs arrive. It's just so hard to win the West. Which brings us to ...

Where does the NBA go from here?

Two Western Conference free agents left their teams and signed with other teams in the West. The Oklahoma City Thunder will be back in the playoffs, the New Orleans Pelicans are getting better and the Utah Jazz may seriously contend for a spot if what they did in the season's final couple months is anywhere close to legitimate.

The Southwest Division could see all five teams make the playoffs for the second straight year, assuming the Mavericks can round out their roster around DeAndre Jordan enough to build a playoff team. The balance of power hasn't been fixed at all and the West is still king.

SB Nation presents: Wrapping up the NBA Playoffs and looking toward next season