Aldridge goes back to Texas, joins Spurs

LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots the ball on Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the fourth quarter in Game Three of the Western Conference quarterfinals during the 2015 NBA Playoffs.
LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the Portland Trail Blazers shoots the ball on Zach Randolph #50 of the Memphis Grizzlies during the fourth quarter in Game Three of the Western Conference quarterfinals during the 2015 NBA Playoffs.PHOTO: AFP

SAN ANTONIO • Forward LaMarcus Aldridge has decided to return to his Texas roots and join the San Antonio Spurs, the free agent announced on his Twitter page on Saturday.

"I'm happy to say I'm going home to Texas and will be a Spur!! I'm excited to join the team and be close to my family and friends," wrote Aldridge, who grew up in Dallas and played basketball at the University of Texas.

The US media reported that Aldridge, who turns 30 later this month, will sign a four-year deal worth US$80 million (S$107.7 million). The Texan spent the first nine years of his career with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Sports broadcaster ESPN said Aldridge was convinced to join the Spurs after meeting coach Gregg Popovich, who sold him on the idea of playing alongside All-Star forward Tim Duncan.

With Duncan getting ready to wind down his brilliant career, Aldridge would give the Spurs a powerful one-two punch along with rising star Kawhi Leonard.

In nine National Basketball Association (NBA) seasons with Portland, Aldridge played 648 regular-season games and averaged 19.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. In 2014-15, he averaged a career-best 23.4 points per game and 10.2 rebounds.

Aldridge informed the Trail Blazers on Friday night that he had narrowed his choices to either the Spurs or Phoenix Suns, then chose San Antonio on Saturday morning.

After the NBA's free-agent market opened on Wednesday, Aldridge met the Spurs, Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2015, with the headline 'Aldridge goes back to Texas, joins Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe