Enter LaMarcus Aldridge, who was introduced as a Net during the team’s practice Tuesday and he immediately made it clear he wants to start.
Aldridge, who hasn’t a game since March 1 ironically against the Nets, told the media via Zoom that he is set on becoming a starter in the Nets crowded front court. His competitive nature gives him the confidence, he said.
“If you can start, you always want to start. Anyone that’s competitive will say they want that and you’re going to fight for that. I’m definitely trying to do my job and hopefully I get it,” the seven-time all-Star said.
The newest Net isn’t the only one who has spoken about starting. Nash teased the possibility during Monday’s pregame.
“He definitely can compete to start but we’ll see how it plays out,” Nash said Monday. “We got to get him up to speed with his conditioning, integrated with the team, comfortable with what we do and with his teammates. There’s plenty of time so he definitely can start.”
As for his role, Aldridge described himself as a “bigger 5 man” that offers more scoring punch than some of Brooklyn’s other options.
“It was about a role, and I feel like I help fill a void of having a bigger 5-man that can score and play defense,” explained Aldridge, while offering praise for the incumbent starter, DeAndre Jordan. “DJ’s great and he brings great value to the team, but it was more about I think I fill a void for us being able to have a little more of an offensive game, being able to take the three and help out.”
And yes, “taking the three” will be a big part of his shot diet.
“When you have KD, James, and Kyrie, I’m probably going to be wide-open,” said Aldridge about taking 3-pointers, noting that he started shooting three’s his last two years in San Antonio, where he shot 36 and 39 percent, averaging three attempts a game. “I’m all on board for it. I was already doing it earlier this season, so that’s not an issue at all.”
On the other end of the floor, Aldridge mentioned that his defensive IQ and communication skills could greatly benefit the Nets on defense.
“Having a high defensive IQ as far as being able to switch, being able to change coverages, being able to help guys read defenses and talking to the guards,” said Aldridge of using his defensive IQ to captain the show from the backline. “Just being vocal out there on defense, I think that’s going to help.”
As far as the switching goes, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton pushed back in that claim in his recent column. Here’s what he had to say...
The biggest question there is whether Aldridge can keep up in the switching-heavy defenses the Nets have favored since the Harden trade. Per Second Spectrum, no team has switched more picks this season than Brooklyn; meanwhile, Aldridge has switched just nine picks while defending the screener all season, according to its tracking.
Aldridge said he will work primarily on his conditioning. There’s a chance Aldridge plays later this week depending on how his “ramp-up” — the Nets new favorite word— goes, according to Nash. Brooklyn will play the Hornets at home Thursday, April 1 and the Bulls in Chicago Sunday, April 4.
Despite not playing in nearly a month, Aldridge feels good as he maintained his conditioning during his absence.
“I was doing everything I could do to try to stay in game shape. It’s impossible to stay in shape to be able to go out there and not be tired but I’ve been doing a lot of things. I actually feel good today...
“I’m not here to be an All-Star, that’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to bring value, bring the things I’m good at, and try and help the team win.”
Shams Charania in a mini-podcast Tuesday night, said the Nets want to “transition away a little bit” from Jordan...
1. Aldridge to start in BKN?— Stadium (@Stadium) March 31, 2021
2. New center in LA.
3. LeBron's timeline.
Our NBA Insider @ShamsCharania brings you the @FDSportsbook 3-Point Play. pic.twitter.com/GwzqycTp0s
Specifically, Shams says...
“I’m told Aldridge will compete for starting center job for the Nets. The expectation is that he will compete for significant minutes in the starting position as they transition a little bit away from DeAndre Jordan potentially and move towards a front court that consists of LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Durant — once he’s back in the lineup, Blake Griffin, Nic Claxton.”
Aldridge, 35, who signed with the Nets on Monday, he said he did his due diligence as he listened to interested teams. The Miami Heat were reported to be strong contenders but Aldridge noted how Brooklyn expressed high interest “right away.”
“You listen to teams and listening to players telling you what they want,” Aldridge said. “Brooklyn made it known right away that they were very interested.
It wasn’t just the Nets front office that made the push to get Aldridge. Kevin Durant played a big role in luring the seven-time All-Star to the East Coast. The 6’11” big added how James Harden played a role as well.
“KD hit me quick and said definitely come here. Just waiting it out, weighed my options and I ended up coming here. It’s a pretty good team and I think I can definitely help.”
“I’ve heard from other guys too but the main one was KD,” Aldridge added. “I talked to James [Harden] but I’ve heard from everyone. It wasn’t just one person but I know him well so it was him first.”
Outside of Durant and Harden, Aldridge has a lot of familiarity with Sean Marks, more than was discussed when he signed. The two played together in Portland during the 2010-11 season and Marks was the assistant GM/coach during his first season in San Antonio (2015-16). Aldridge played against Nash out west as well and is good friends with Ime Udoka, who he played with in Portland as a rookie and was an assistant with the Spurs.
When asked about the coaching and front office connections, Aldridge says he feels very comfortable heading into playing for the Nets.
“I’m very comfortable. Knew Sean from San Antonio. Sean did a quick stint in Portland at the end of his career so I knew him from there too. Great guy, team guy, player guy so I definitely had some good times with him,” Aldridge said. “I’ve known Nash over the years going against him. It’s nice to have him coaching. It’s been fun talking to those guys for sure.”
In other injury and conditioning news, Landry Shamet, who is recovering from a right ankle sprain, is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Rockets. Shamet has missed the last three games for Brooklyn and last played against the Wizards on March 21 - the game he suffered the injury.
Alize Johnson back on second 10-day contract
He’s back! After his impressive 23-point, 15-rebound showing against the Utah Jazz, Alize Johnson has been reportedly offered a second 10-day contract says ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The Brooklyn Nets are planning to sign F Alize Johnson to a second 10-day contract, sources tell ESPN. Johnson had an outstanding 23-point, 15-rebound performance vs. Utah in 33 minutes. Johnson’s original 10-day expires Wednesday.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) March 30, 2021
Just last week, Alize’s agent, George Langberg, told NetsDaily “wouldn’t rule out” the option to keep Johnson on the roster past his initial 10-day deal. Though Johnson has yet to play since his big breakout performance — receiving DNPs against the Pistons and Timberwolves — he’ll have his opportunity to earn his keep on this championship roster is extended, for now. Also the second 10-day will permit the Nets to check him out while surveying the buyout market. The deadline for buyouts in April 9.
Report: Nets offered Spencer Dinwiddie to Warriors for Kelly Oubre; Warriors declined
The villainy could’ve gotten even more... villainous. In his Thursday newsletter, The Times’ Marc Stein wrote about how the Nets pursed Golden State wing, Kelly Oubre, at the deadline. Here’s what Stein had to say:
The volume on complaints surely would have been higher had the Nets been successful in their attempts to trade the injured Spencer Dinwiddie for a wing player. Among the options they explored, I’m told, was sending Dinwiddie to Golden State for Kelly Oubre. Golden State rejected those overtures because it is still desperate to make the playoffs. While numerous Oubre trade scenarios came up, Golden State was not going to trade him for someone who couldn’t help the team in the short term.
“I think a lot of people thought he might be available, but we value him, too, as evidenced by not trading him,” Bob Myers, Golden State’s president of basketball operations, said of Oubre on Friday.
With Andre Igoudala, Shaun Livingston, and, no big deal, KEVIN DURANT out of the picture, you’d think Golden State would have a need for some secondary ball-handling next to Stephen Curry who can tilt a defense with a whole heck of a lot of drives.... especially with “Splash Brother” G Klay Thompson returning from injury for Golden State’s (final?) title run next season. But apparently not!
Meanwhile, Dinwiddie keeps posting almost daily videos of his progress on Instagram.
Can’t knock the hustle.
- Center LaMarcus Aldridge believes he fills Nets’ void with his offense - Greg Logan - Newsday
- Kevin Durant recruited LaMarcus Aldridge, who hopes to fill a void at the center for Nets - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News