I sure as hell didn’t expect the San Antonio Spurs to pull off one of the top free agency acquisitions in the league this off-season, and when I heard the news that LaMarcus Aldridge parted ways with the team he spent over nine years of his career with (Portland Trail Blazers) to join the championship pedigree Spurs, I quickly envisioned the Spurs as the early favorite to win the 2016 Western Conference Title. As Tim Duncan will soon reach the end of a historic career in which he helped raise 5 NBA Titles (and counting), Aldridge appears to be the successor in what one would only think to be a clear handing of the torch — with hopes of another decade or more of 50-plus winning seasons and quite possibly an NBA title here or there.
While Aldridge has been modest in his comparisons to Duncan, I’m hard-pressed to find another player even remotely close to mirroring Duncan’s uncanny ability and overall talent on the court. Anthony Davis drew comparisons early last season (mostly hype), but you simply can’t deny how great of a player Aldridge has been over the last few seasons, and in my opinion he’s been the best power forward in the league over the last 4 seasons — I think his numbers solidify such a statement.
I believe I’ve marveled enough about Aldridge, so lets move on to the million dollar question. Are the Spurs gearing up for a 2016 title run and what key moves did they make this off-season?
- July 17 – Spurs sign David West to veterans minimum. West actually made an excellent choice, he took less money to play with a team with a legitimate shot at an NBA title. This is another huge acquisition, as West is far from a scrub player. Keep in mind we’re talking about an aggressive player who can rebound and put up double-digit points on any given night.
- July 16 – The Spurs resigned 2014-15 NBA Defensive Player of the year Kawhi Leonard. Per club policy, the details and terms of the contract were not announced. Leonard is coming off a career 2015 NBA season where he averaged 16.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 2.31 steals and 31.8, while shooting .479 from the field. Leonard will be the second highest paid player for the Spurs next season ($16,407,500) — money well spent if you understand how valuable Leonard is for his team.
- July 15 – Spurs resign Matt Bonner. Bonner played 72 games last season and could find himself playing extended minutes behind either LaMarcus Aldridge or Tim Duncan. Defensively, he out-hustles many on the court and has the ability to stretch the floor and shoot the long ball.
- July 9 – Spurs sign LaMarcus Aldridge. Again, this is arguably the biggest free agency signing of the off-season. Aldridge is a top-10 player in the league and should only increase the odds of the Spurs reaching the NBA Finals.
With the usual suspects all set to return next season ( Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, and Manu Ginobili ), the Spurs appear to be gearing up to make some serious noise in 2016. If healthy, is there any team in the West that can rival such a talented roster?