SAN ANTONIO – Five-time All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs have agreed on a contract extension, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported.
The franchise and Aldridge, who signed with San Antonio as a free agent in July 2015, had been in "serious" negotiations for the extension, Wojnarowski said.
The deal is for $72.3 million over three years, with partial guarantees in the final year, Wojnarowski reported.
Aldridge and the Spurs faced an 11:59 p.m. deadline Monday to reach a deal that would allow Aldridge to opt into the $22.3 million player option on his 2018-19 contract and extend his contract for a maximum of three additional years, Wojnarowski reported.
Under terms of his current contract, Aldridge could have opted out of his contract before the 2018-19 season.
Neither Aldridge nor Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich were available for comment after Monday's workout. Guard Danny Green earlier talked about what the contract extension would mean to the Spurs.
"That would be big," Green said. "Obviously, it would put the other rumors to rest that he's not happy here. It seems like right now he's feeling comfortable. He's fitting well. He's kind of more at home now, being himself, playing good basketball.
“He’s in good shape right now. I think it will be for the organization. I think it will be big for him. Moving forward, I would think it helps this organization continue to be successful and stay in that direction. Every team usually has a rebuilding year. This team hasn’t had it for 20 years."
With leading scorer Kawhi Leonard sidelined with a quadriceps injury, the Spurs will rely on Aldridge to carry a heavy load of the team's offense. Leonard missed the entire preseason and won't play in Wednesday night's opener against Minnesota. Popovich said there is no timetable for Leonard's return.
Aldridge, who is preparing for his third season with the Silver and Black and 12th in the NBA, will make $21.4 million this season. He signed a four-year deal in 2015, with an option on the last season.
Aldridge, who turned 32 in July, played nine seasons with Portland before joining the Spurs. Although he made the All-Star team in his first season with San Antonio, Aldridge has had trouble fitting into the offense.
The Spurs sought a trade for him this summer, but no deal materialized. Aldridge subsequently sat down with Popovich about his frustration in not being able to help the team more.
Popovich said later that he took Aldridge’s concerns to heart and blamed himself for not doing a better job of putting Aldridge in a better position to thrive in the Spurs’ offense.
Playing with a little more bounce in his step and looking more comfortable on offense, Aldridge quieted the naysayers with his steady play in the preseason. He averaged a team-leading 18 points on 57.4 shooting in five preseason games, along with 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
Popovich has praised Aldridge’s play on both ends of the court.
“He’s played real loose,” Popovich said last week after the Spurs’ preseason game against Orlando. “Especially on offense, he looks real comfortable. He’s getting the ball in good positions, and has done a fine job being a real stalwart at the offensive end of the court. Just like last year, he’s working hard defensively. He’s having a really good beginning.”
Aldridge struck a positive tone recently when he was asked about how his game has come along.
“I feel really comfortable right now and I think Pop has made some tweaks to help me feel more comfortable, so I think it all goes to him. (I got) some different looks out there, and I can touch it from different spots,” Aldridge said. “It’s been helping out.”
Popovich said that Aldridge’s concerns were “totally legitimate” and worked on schemes to get him more involved in the offense.
“We have got to help him a little bit more so that he is comfortable offensively, and I haven’t done a very good job of that,” Popovich said.
Aldridge put the past two seasons behind him this summer and focused on making a fresh start. He worked on his game and was upbeat throughout training camp.
"It shows that he's not unhappy here, that he likes it here," Leonard said. "Obviously, he likes winners. He's not a selfish guy. We won a lot of games last year, and it's because of him. I think he likes that atmosphere and likes that winning culture.
"Again, he feels more comfortable playing his type of basketball now in the system, and they changed things in the system for him. I think he's becoming happier as we go along. I think he sees himself here for a while, winning more games and giving himself the best opportunity to win a championship."
The Spurs have made the playoffs for 20 consecutive seasons, and have won five NBA championships, all under Popovich.
San Antonio opens the season against the Minnesota Timberwolves at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the AT&T Center. The game will be televised by KENS 5, the official station of the Spurs.
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