NBA Notebook: The LaMarcus Aldridge Era is over in San Antonio
The NBA All-Star break is in the rearview mirror, and now we're off and running into the second half of the season. With eyes set on the playoffs and beyond, the intensity is bound to step up another notch.
Let’s look at five of the top stories from around the Association in this week’s edition of our NBA Notebook.
The Spurs are shopping LaMarcus Aldridge
The LaMarcus Aldridge Era is over in San Antonio, as the the Spurs have announced their intention to trade the seven-time All-Star. Aldridge has played five and a half years with the Spurs, and by all accounts is an excellent teammate and veteran presence.
Aldridge has battled injuries recently, but could be a valuable pick-up for a team looking for a half-year rental. He has averaged 13.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in 2020-21, his lowest production since his rookie season, but is still a 36% shooter from deep, which is an attractive percentage from a stretch four.
COVID-19 is Impacting Rosters
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were forced to skip the 2021 NBA All-Star Game due to COVID-19 protocols, and also missed the 76ers’ first game back following the break.
MVP Winner 2020/2021
Sun, May 16 2021, 11:00 PM
Two other players tested positive in the NBA’s latest round of testing, and while games aren’t being postponed like earlier in the season, it's a clear reminder that the virus is still a looming threat when the frontrunner in the NBA MVP race is forced to miss action. Let’s hope this doesn’t linger into the second half of the season, and most importantly, doesn’t impact any rosters come playoff time.
Harden has evolved as an elite playmaker
During his time with the Houston Rockets, James Harden developed a deserved reputation as an offensive juggernaut who was also a bit of a black hole. The former MVP was known to dribble the air out of the ball as he tried to lull the defense into a coma.
Now with the Brooklyn Nets, Harden has seen his assists rise to a league-leading 11.4 per game, which is rather remarkable when you consider the fact he's played so few games with Kevin Durant.
It will be fascinating to see whether "The Beard" continues to be a pass-first facilitator during crunch time or whether he reverts back to his old habits.
The Celtics are Surging
The Celtics lost on Thursday evening to the Nets, but going into the All-Star break they had won four consecutive games. They played the Nets competitively, and with Marcus Smart returning from injury things might be turning around in Boston.
The Celtics were in last place in the Atlantic Division less than a month ago, but now find themselves squarely in the middle of the Eastern Conference postseason picture. Mark our words, this is a team that no one will want to face in the first round of the playoffs.