The Brooklyn Nets will be in a constant state of hunting for veteran buyouts over the next decade, and two of their first successes in that regard came in Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge, the latter of whom finally got out of Detroit and the former of whom reached the end of the line with the San Antonio Spurs.
After five games, Aldridge averaged 12.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game, helping provide the Nets with exactly the type of player they were missing. After weeks of struggling to defend the rim and go to work in the post on offense, Aldridge looked like an answered prayer.
He abruptly decided to cut his time with the Nets short by retiring thanks to an irregular heartbeat. However, after receiving all of the proper medical clearance from the NBA to return to action, Aldridge decided that the best spot for him was right back in Brooklyn, and he put pen to paper on a deal that will compensate him well in 2021-22.
Per Adrian Wojnarowski, Aldridge is coming back to the Nets on a one-year, $2.6 million deal. After looking like they were in for yet another season of struggling to defend the paint thanks to a lack of size and depth, Brooklyn is now bursting at the seams with talent on both ends of the floor.
LaMarcus Aldridge helps fix the Brooklyn Nets’ main issue.
While Aldridge started last year, Blake Griffin did an admirable job filling in as the starter following Aldridge’s retirement. Expect, for now, Griffin to hold on to his starting role and for Aldridge to come in as the backup, as the yin-yang dynamic created by Griffin’s shooting and Aldridge’s low-post game could be a sight to behold.
The Nets weren’t done adding veteran help this offseason, as former Jazz standout and Hawks All-Star Paul Millsap agreed to a contract to replace the departed Jeff Green. Look for Millsap to be included in the first unit off of the bench, as he can still score with ease in the paint.
The Nets aren’t just lining up outside the retirement home and snagging all the old geezers playing shuffleboard. Nicolas Claxton is starting to emerge as one of the best young defensive bigs in the game, and first-round pick Day’Ron Sharpe is an old-school center with mobility that is coming off of a very impressive Summer League stint.
Let’s say that all of those backups are somehow incapacitated over the course of a grueling season. The Nets still have James Johnson, a battle-tested veteran who can provide rebounding, defense, and veteran moxie. For a team that was legitimately deficient in that area last year, it’s refreshing to see Sean Marks stock up on bigs.
With Brooklyn having offloaded DeAndre Jordan in a swap that brought back a former No. 15 overall pick in Sekou Doumbouya, the Nets have clearly emphasized defense and size alongside their collection of superstars in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden.
Considering how the postseason ended (in addition to injuries) thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo and the oversized Bucks navigating the paint with ease, Aldridge and the rest of the Nets bigs should be able to slightly tip the balance in Brooklyn’s favor over the next few meetings.
As these playoffs proved, one of Brooklyn’s stars being fully healthy and taking over may not be enough to get this team past Milwaukee and into the finals. If Aldridge plays like he did last year, and the rest of the big men all play their assigned roles, Brooklyn shooting to the top of the East and making it to the Finals could become a reality.