The Los Angeles Lakers, as we all know, failed in their sales pitch to LaMarcus Aldridge. Twice.
The San Antonio Spurs did not.
Aldridge, the big fish in this year’s free-agent pond, signed a max contract with the Spurs – a four-year, $80 million deal that will keep him in San Antonio through the 2018-19 season.
Why were the Spurs so successful in their pitch?
“It was exactly the opposite of the Lakers’ (pitch); it was purely basketball-driven,” Spurs insider Hector Ledesma said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “And Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, R.C. Buford and Patty Mills – a former teammate of LaMarcus’ in Portland – they joined Popovich in that first meeting. They talked to LaMarcus about the basketball, the Xs and Os. Where would l play? Would he be more of a four? Would he be more of a 5? How many minutes could he expect? What would his defensive responsibilities be? How would he fit into a Spurs offense that is set to move the ball? Pops’ favorite line is, ‘If the ball sticks, we die.’ Well, LaMarcus is a guy who needs the ball in his hands to be effective. He’s a great, dominant, low-post player. So they kind of talked about how they could marry those two things and the two could co-exist.”
Then came the second meeting.
“I think the follow-up meeting was Pop saying to LaMarcus, ‘Hey, look, Tim’s only going to play two more years. Whether it’s one more year or two more years, Tim’s not going to be here for too much longer,’” Ledesma explained. “‘I recently signed a five-year contract extension. I can guarantee you I will be here for all five of those years.’ So I think LaMarcus getting that reassurance from Pop and from Tim – kind of letting LaMarcus know that this culture that has been built here is going to stay intact for the duration of your four-year contract – I think that’s what put the Spurs over the top with that second meeting in which Pop flew from San Antonio back to Los Angeles after already having made that trip earlier in the week.”
The Spurs also signed David West, a no-nonsense, playoff-tested power forward who signed a one-year deal with San Antonio for the veterans minimum of $1.4 million. West, who spent the past four seasons in Indiana, opted out of a deal that would have paid him $12 million in 2015-16.
That’s how badly players want to play for the Spurs. That’s how good they are at what they do. They’re a model franchise.
“It’s all interconnected,” Ledesma said. “That’s the beauty of the Spurs’ system. Do you ever watch a movie and at the end of the movie you think to yourself, ‘Wow, that’s a fantastic movie because everything fit’? Like the story was great, the action was great, and, oh, by the way, the acting was great. You just could not imagine some other actor having played that part the movie was just perfect. That’s what the Spurs are. Everything is perfect.”