LaMarcus Aldridge has made the best basketball decision for himself and has, reportedly, signed a four year eighty million dollar deal with the Spurs.
This makes the Spurs the top contender for the title next season, in my opinion. Putting Aldridge in the starting lineup next to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Danny Green and Kwahi Leonard will make this a very difficult team to beat. The main contenders coming out of the Western Conference to the Spurs will be, the reigning champs, Golden State and, if they're at full health, Oklahoma City. It's those three teams and everyone else. Memphis continues to get older and they still have yet to sign Marc Gasol, but that seems like a formality at this point. The Clippers lost their best rebounder and rim protector and I don't think Paul Pierce or Lance Stephenson are going to make that much of a difference. Portland is going to take a huge step back now that Damien Lilliard is the only remaining starter from last season still on the team(Wes Matthews signed with Dallas, Aldidge to the Spurs, Robin Lopez to the Knicks and they traded Nic Batum to the Hornets). The Pelicans will be good again, but Anthony Davis is going to need help from his other teammates. He also needs them to be healthy for an entire season. Houston will be fine, but they'll need Harden to play defense like he did this past season if they want to make the conference finals again. I think it would really help to have Dwight Howard healthy for a full season. Dallas signed some big names like DeAndre Jordan and Wes Matthews, but they also lost Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler. And if OKC can stay healthy, Phoenix will still be on the outside looking in. So, that leaves OKC and Golden State as the Spurs biggest competition. Golden State is the reigning champ, and until they get beat, will still be champs. They return just about everyone from last year. The lone exception is David Lee and, while he played an integral part in the finals, I don't think he'll be missed all that much. The Warriors are lethal offensively and great on defense. I just think they'll be hard pressed to match up against a huge and very skilled Spurs front court and, as good as a defender Draymond Green is, he can't keep pace with Kwahi Leonard. For the Warriors to beat the Spurs in the playoffs, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will have to shoot about 70% from the field and about 65% from three. Which is pretty impossible. Which brings me to the wild card team, the Thunder. Before last season started, almost every writer picked the Thunder to win the title, but then the injury bug crushed that dream. Westbrook and Ibaka missed extended time and Kevin Durant only played in 27 games all season. They were able to get rid of Reggie Jackson and traded for Enes Kanter and DJ Augustin. It remains to be seen if they'll resign Kanter, he's asking for way too much in my opinion. They drafted Cameron Payne to back up Westbrook. I think Payne is in the perfect situation for him. He will run the second unit with a lot of confidence and the young man can shoot and find the open guy. But, put their lineup against the Spurs and I think they matchup the best with them. Westbrook is better than Danny Green and Ibaka can immobilize an aging Duncan. The best matchup will be Kwahi Leonard and Kevin Durant. These two almost cancel each other out since Leonard is so good on defense and Durant is so good on offense. I think the Spurs just have too much firepower for the Thunder to beat them in a seven game series. As I said before, Aldridge made the best decision for himself and he may just wind up with a title next season.
As for the east (Cleveland), better luck in 2017.
Ty is the Pop Culture editor for Seed Sing. He does not know if LaMarcus Aldridge and his girlfriend will go back to Portland and visit Women and Women First bookstore. Follow him on twitter @tykulik