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LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t the answer to the Wizards’ problems

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NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Washington Wizards Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

By now, you may have seen the reports that there may be a little bit of discord between LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs. Jackie MacMullan of ESPN reported he may not finish the year in San Antonio and Jabari Young of the San Antonio News-Express reported the team is open to trading him if the right package comes along.

Naturally, whenever a player of Aldridge’s pedigree is rumored to be available, every team has to at least consider what it would take to acquire them, including the Wizards.

It’s hard to imagine how anything could happen right away. As Pounding the Rock details, there isn’t a good reason for the Spurs to rush into anything right now. But even if they were, the Wizards wouldn’t have much to offer at the moment. Remember, everyone the Wizards signed over the summer (including Bradley Beal) cannot be traded until December 15, so it would be almost impossible to concoct a deal that gets Aldridge in a Wizards uniform before the season opener.

That said, let’s go ahead and fast forward to the trade deadline and assume the Spurs are willing to discuss a trade. Before the Wizards can even start discussing players and picks, they need to ask themselves some questions that I think would preclude them from making an aggressive push to get him.

Does Aldridge fit the Wizards’ timeline?

Yes and no. The Wizards certainly need to take a step forward this season, and adding Aldridge to the Wizards’ core would make it a lot easier to do that. Even though he might not be able to fire away from three, he’s so effective from the midrange area and in the paint that he still forces defenses to respect his shot which creates space the team can use.

At the same time, Aldridge (who turned 31 in July) would immediately become the team’s second-oldest player behind Marcin Gortat, or the oldest player, if Gortat was part of the trade. Either way, it forces the Wizards into ramp up their expectations while they try to get what they can out of Aldridge before he starts to slow down. Because even though his game should age well, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was a notch below All-Star level by the time he’s eligible to exercise his player option in 2018.

So if you’re worried about doing whatever it takes to keep John Wall happy before he hits free agency in 2019, there’s really no guarantee that Aldridge will make things better. He might give the team a jolt in 2017, but by the time Wall hits the open market, Aldridge could be a shell of his former self or on a different team entirely because he has a player option for the 2018-19 season. Unless you think he can push the Wizards to a point where they can challenge the Cavaliers in the East right away, it might be better to hold those trade chips for someone who can be at the top of his game as Wall enters the final year of his deal.

Is Aldridge a good fit with Wall and Beal?

Again, it’s a yes or no answer depending on your perspective. Aldridge would be the best scoring option Wall has ever had, but this might not be the best time to be throwing another high-usage scorer into the mix. Even if you think Wall and Beal are past whatever alpha dog issues they’ve had in the past, there’s going to be an adjustment period if you add someone in like Aldridge, who let’s not forget, might be on the trade block because he doesn’t like how he’s being used in San Antonio.

If there are no assurances that everyone involved is willing to take the necessary sacrifices to be great, what’s the point?

Is trading with the Spurs ever a good idea?

The Spurs have shown time and time again over the years they know how to evaluate talent better than just about anyone in the league. If they feel comfortable moving on from LaMarcus Aldridge, that should tell you something. Likewise, if the Spurs indicate they like your trade proposal, you should really think long and hard about what it is that’s so appealing about your offer that they’d be willing to give up a player they went so hard after in free agency in 2015.

Of course, things have changed a lot since he signed in San Antonio, and there are reasons why they might want to move on that are more about retooling around Kawhi Leonard than they are about issues with Aldridge. Still, if the Spurs really like the guys the Wizards could offer to help that retooling process, then maybe they should just keep those pieces and use them to retool around John Wall rather than help out someone else.