NBA trade rumors are really beginning to heat up as we get close to the start of the 2016-17 regular season. One preseason trade has already gone down as the Chicago Bulls have agreed to send swingman Tony Snell to the Milwaukee Bucks for point guard Michael Carter-Williams. Previously, the San Antonio Spurs have been one franchise that has not been part of the off-season rumor mill, but that changed this week when ESPN's Jackie MacMullan issued a statement that one of the Spurs' best players will probably be dealt before the season ends.
According to CSN New England, the San Antonio Spurs will place power forward LaMarcus Aldridge on the trading block, and the Boston Celtics are an early favorite to obtain his services. The report states that Aldridge has not been happy in San Antonio because when he signed with the team in 2015, he was told he would be the offensive go-to guy. Instead, Kawhi Leonard has been the No. 1 option for the Spurs -- and that hasn't sat well with Aldridge. In addition, the team doesn't feel that LaMarcus Aldridge has been a good fit with his teammates on the court, so the interest in a possible trade is mutual between Aldridge and Spurs management (per the San Antonio Express-News).In the wake of this news, internet rumors have begun to surface as to the exact structure of a potential offer from the Celtics for the rights to LaMarcus Aldridge. One possible scenario sees Boston receiving Aldridge in exchange for a package that would include small forward Jae Crowder, power forward Amir Johnson, power forward Jonas Jerebko and both of the Celtics' first-round draft picks in 2018.
This proposal that has come up in NBA trade rumors is indeed a legal deal as verified by examining NBA trade and salary cap rules. Sources are indicating that the San Antonio Spurs and LaMarcus Aldridge are headed for a divorce, and it has been known for some time that the Boston Celtics are trying to acquire one more top-flight player to go along with recent free agent signee Al Horford. The question now is this: would either Boston or San Antonio be interested in a deal involving Aldridge, Crowder, Johnson and Jerebko?
The Celtics can use Al Horford at either center or power forward, but if the team trades for LaMarcus Aldridge, Horford would play center and Aldridge would man the power forward position. Trading both Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko would leave Boston thin at power forward, as Jordan Mickey would be the only holdover at that spot. However, LaMarcus Aldridge would be playing heavy minutes if he was acquired by the Celtics, so lack of depth wouldn't be a major issue for the team.
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The risk for Boston would be dealing Jae Crowder to the Spurs, because this would leave rookie Jaylen Brown as the starter at small forward. The early preseason returns on Brown have been very positive, but the Celtics are a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference, so Brown would have to grow up fast if the team intends to challenge the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. The Boston Celtics are in win-now mode, and they can't afford to be patient with rookie mistakes in that instance. Jaylen Brown's progress, as well as the team's confidence in him, are key components of this potential trade.
From San Antonio's viewpoint, they would be getting Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko to replace Aldridge, in addition to current backup power forward David Lee. This would give the Spurs' power forward position a much different look, but given the issues related to LaMarcus Aldridge, it wouldn't necessarily be a downgrade. San Antonio has quite a few offensive weapons (even without Aldridge), so a more defensive-minded group of power forwards might be a good change for the Spurs. Also, David Lee is a proven scorer in the NBA, so this group does have some ability in that area.Jae Crowder would not be a starter for San Antonio but could be valuable as a backup at small forward and perhaps shooting guard. The Spurs' lineup is solid, so it would be difficult for any new player obtained in a trade to be more than a second-unit guy. One exception would be Amir Johnson, who would likely start if this rumored trade scenario came to fruition. It should be noted that San Antonio would also receive two first-round draft choices in 2018 as part of the Celtics' rumored offer. Those picks certainly have value and may be just the extra incentive the Spurs would need to agree to this swap.
The latest NBA trade rumors are pointing toward a potential deal between the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs for five-time NBA All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge. While this trade isn't a no-brainer for either side, it does offer enough value that both teams could theoretically give it a thumbs-up. Is Jaylen Brown ready to be a starter in his rookie season? Can Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, and David Lee replace LaMarcus Aldridge by committee? These are just some of the questions that must be answered if the Celtics and Spurs are going to do business and make a move involving Aldridge, San Antonio's disgruntled frontcourt star.
[Featured Image by Eric Gay/AP Images]