Boston Celtics Free Agent Target – LaMarcus Aldridge


The Boston Celtics are one of many teams whose name has been thrown around as a landing spot for 2015 big-name free agent LaMarcus Aldridge.

Aldridge is probably one of the top 3 players who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season, trailing only behind Marc Gasol and DeAndre Jordan.

At first glance, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of Aldridge coming to Boston. He is an aging power forward (29 years old) who is likely to see a decline in his production within the next few years.

Worst of all, Aldridge has never played in all 82 games in all nine of his NBA seasons. Granted, he has played in 81 out of 82 games in two seasons, but he has missed a minimum of eight games in each of his last four seasons.

Apr 27, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) loses the ball as Memphis Grizzlies forward Tony Allen (9) reaches for the steal during the second quarter in game four of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Aldridge is coming off a five year, $65 million contract. After a career year where he averaged 23.4 points per game and 10.2 rebounds, he won’t be looking to take any kind of a pay cut when it comes to signing his next contract. In fact, Aldridge is almost a lock to sign a max contract.

The catch is this; at 29 years old, Aldridge may be looking to sign a deal that will give him some job security as his production starts to decline. Many of the other big name free agents who are younger may look to sign a one or two year deal, which will allow them to sign an even bigger contract when the NBA salary cap jumps in 2017.

More from Celtics News

In other words, if the Celtics could find a way to get Aldridge to come to Boston, even for a max contract, they would be getting their money’s worth at least until the salary cap rises. When it does, Aldridge will hopefully still be earning his contract, but if not, the contract won’t seem quite so bad.

His age is a turn off for a lot of people when it comes to LMA. If the Celtics want to contend, they are going to need to start adding some experienced veterans eventually. With the potential departure of Brandon Bass, Aldridge would fill that roll perfectly.

Aldridge also has valuable playoff experience, which is hard to come by on this Celtics squad. Not to mention, Aldridge has played his whole career in the Western conference where the competition is undoubtedly more stiff.

In Aldridge’s 34 career playoff games, he has averaged about 40 minutes (7 minutes higher than the most-played Celtic this year), with 22.1 points and 8.8 rebounds.

Fellow Celtic bigs, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger could stand to learn a thing or two from Aldridge. He has a mean set of low-post moves which is precisely what the two aforementioned players lack (though Sullinger is getting better). Aldridge also has decent range, although he doesn’t really space the floor the way that Olynyk and Sullinger do.

Last year he averaged a career high 1.5 three-point attempts per game, capitalizing on about 35 percent of them. Sullinger and Olynyk both averaged roughly double the amount of three-point attempts, but perhaps Aldridge would too in Brad Stevens’ system.

So how does Aldridge stack up against other potential power forwards that the Celtics could target? One name that has bounced around plenty is the Atlanta Hawks’ Paul Millsap, also 29 years old. Millsap, who is finishing up a 2-year, $19 million contract, has a similar injury history and has failed to play a full NBA season in five years.

Last year, Millsap posted a more pedestrian 16.7 points per game with 7.8 rebounds. He also averaged a 3.1 assists, which is mostly a result of Mike Budenholzer’s system in Atlanta. Considering Stevens plays a similar style, this production would likely continue.

Millsap may have the slight advantage defensively over Aldridge. Per 100 possessions, Millsap averaged 2.8 steals and 1.5 blocks, as opposed to Aldridge’s 0.7 steals and 1 block. With that said, the Celtics aren’t only need of big men who can defend, as many Boston fans think. They need a big man who can finish at the rim and hold it down on the other end of the court. For this reason, I think LaMarcus Aldridge could be the guy for the Celtics.

Apr 29, 2015; Memphis, TN, USA; Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) drives in the first quarter against Portland Trailblazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during game five of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

If the Celtics choose to upgrade at the power forward position instead of resigning Brandon Bass, LaMarcus Aldridge is their best bet. Assuming they can’t pull any of the big-5 obvious max contract free agents (Leonard, Gasol, Love, Jordan, and Butler), Aldridge would be a great use of some of that cap space.

He would have a huge offensive impact, and it would benefit the whole team to have a guy who is used to winning games and making the playoffs in the locker room.

One last thought… If LaMarcus Aldridge came to Boston, we would hold two of the three necessary pieces to completing the Marcus Big Three (the second piece being Marcus Smart). That just leaves DeMarcus Cousins.

More from Hardwood Houdini