LaMarcus Aldridge‘s new addition to Brooklyn isn’t just about the wealthy getting wealthier. The Powerball is won by a billionaire, and everyone else is triggered.
After the seven-time All-Star was bought out by San Antonio, the Nets reportedly signed him on Sunday.
It came after they signed six-time All-Star Blake Griffin and traded for three-time reigning scoring champion James Harden in January, moves that have enraged both fans and pundits.
And Griffin is chuckling to himself.
“It’s kind of funny to me because for the last couple of years all I’ve heard is how bad I am. You sign with this team and everybody’s like, ‘that’s not fair!’” Griffin said to The Post about the strong reactions.
“People say whatever they want. I don’t put a whole lot of value on other people’s opinions.
“I trust the people I trust. If I don’t go to you for advice, then I’m probably not going to take your criticism. So I have that circle of people and I have that group of people that I trust, real basketball people; that’s who I listen to.
I just think it’s funny. I don’t know what people have been saying about him. That’s how I felt when I came here. I was hearing how bad I was, and now people care for some reason.”
It would be an understatement to say they are concerned. When the news of Aldridge’s signing broke Saturday evening, NBA’s Twitter was ablaze with responses, describing the Nets as the NBA’s villains, the league’s Darth Vader.
Sports Illustrated’s Howard Beck penned an article arguing that buyouts are “warping the NBA’s competitive landscape”, arguing the Nets’ moves as the latest example.
“Aldridge (35) and Griffin (32) are both past their primes, but they are still solid players, and an incredible luxury for a Nets team already stocked with elite scorers,” he wrote.
“Aldridge’s contract with the Spurs paid $24 million ($A31m) this season (minus a reported $7.25 million buyout).
Griffin’s contract was worth $36.8 million ($A48m) this season, and another $38.9 million ($A51m) next season (minus a reported $13.3 million buyout). The Nets just got them both for $2.1 million ($A2.8m) combined.”
A team executive told Beck it is just “another inequity for small markets” while another added, “the system is flawed.”
“This is creating a competitive advantage for the large, destination markets,” says the first team exec. “And it’s another inequity for the small markets.”
On Twitter, ESPN’s figure, Stephen A. Smith contributed his voice to the chorus of a lengthy soliloquy.
“What’s going to be next if you’re the Brooklyn Nets? I mean this is almost like buying a championship for crying out loud. Blake Griffin comes. LaMarcus Aldridge has now decided to go,” Smith ranted.
“I mean, you want a championship, I got all of that. You should be the favorites. KD, James Harden, Kyrie, Lethal Weapon 3, but damn! I mean, what about competition?
“You’re just going to get everybody now? Everybody? I mean, I’m looking forward to the playoffs; I want the competition.
But if we’re just going to stockpile and get everybody and everybody running to Brooklyn to try to steal a championship, I mean, c’mon. KD, Kyrie, James Harden — that’s cool.
I get all of that. Blake Griffin couldn’t get someplace else? LaMarcus Aldridge, you of all people, after all the years you spent in Portland and San Antonio, that’s what are we doing now?”
Griffin fought back against the grand theft myth, pointing out that when the Lakers recruited new Nets coach Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to a roster.
It already included the late Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol in 2012-13, they attracted equal scrutiny. The team came in seventh place in the Western Conference.
“It’s just kind of crazy how it all comes together. At the beginning of the season, if you’d said that James and LaMarcus and I would end up with the Nets, everybody’s betting against that.
So it’s just kind of how it all comes together, how it all shakes out,” said Griffin.
“That being said, we still have a ton of work to do, and we still have to prove ourselves.
“There have been so many examples of teams, people forming teams and everybody makes a big deal of it. I remember when the Lakers got Dwight and Steve.
Sometimes it doesn’t work out. We realize that. We know we have work to do and we know we have to be great.”
Harden, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and DeAndre Jordan will be joined by Griffin and Aldridge.
They’ve also played in at least one All-Star Game, with a total of 41 appearances.
However, as Griffin points out – and as Nash found on the Lakers roster – names don’t guarantee championship rings. It’ll be up to the Nets to decide.