LaMarcus Aldridge missing for season after shoulder surgery, jeopardizing Spurs’ 22-year playoff streak


While the redesigned NBA playoff format for the 2019-20 season will give the San Antonio Spurs a real chance at reaching the playoffs, they will have to try to make it arguably their best player. LaMarcus Aldridge had shoulder surgery on April 24 to repair an injury suffered in February and is now out for the season, the Spurs announced on Monday. It should be completely cleared in time for training camp for the 2020-21 season.

The Spurs have made it to the playoffs for 22 consecutive seasons, binding them to the Philadelphia 76ers (and their previous incarnation, the Syracuse Nationals) for the longest streak of its kind in NBA history. This streak has never faced a greater threat than today. The Spurs start the renewed regular season at 12th place in the Western Conference, edging the No. 8 Memphis Grizzlies by four games. If the No. 9 seed finished in all four games in Game 8, they would force a play-in tournament in which the No. 9 seed would beat the No. 8 seed twice in a row to steal their spot in the playoffs.

Aldridge’s gross numbers of 18.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game are down from his star stats from the previous two seasons, but you could argue that he did more to influence the win this season than in one of the last two. It comes down to a decision that fans have been waiting for years. Aldridge, one of the best mid-range shooters in the NBA, eventually pushed his line behind the 3-point line consistently. After shooting just 28.3% on 0.4 3 point attempts per game in the first 13 years of his career, Aldridge has attempted 4.2 per game since December 23 and has made 41.6%. Since then, the Spurs have scored a brilliant 115.4 points for 100 possessions with Aldridge on the field.

San Antonio now has very few options to turn to on the front line, which amounts to a number of bad decisions on its part. During the offseason, they swapped future star shooter Davis Bertans at the Washington Wizards to create space to sign Marcus Morris, who later reneged on his agreement to join the New York Knicks. Just three days before Aldridge’s injury, the Spurs bought versatile forward DeMarre Carroll, allowing him to join the Houston Rockets. This will force the Spurs to rely on younger players like Trey Lyles, Luka Samanic and Chimezie Metu.

If nothing else, it will give San Antonio a glimpse of its future. Aldridge turns 35 in July and his contract will expire after next season. Aldridge’s days as a superstar for the Spurs were limited. After this injury, his future and that of San Antonio are even more uncertain.


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