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The Starting 5: How the Spurs Landed LaMarcus Aldridge

Soobum Im/USA TODAY Sports

The Starting 5: A look at some of the best hoops content from around the Internet

1. “Five days in free agency: inside the courtship of LaMarcus Aldridge” – Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports

The San Antonio Spurs are a historically tight-lipped organization. They always do their best to keep what they’re doing private.

Just watch the draft every June. San Antonio always picks at least one player you’ve never heard of, and it’s usually a European guy nobody scouted beforehand.

Which is why Wojnarowski’s detailed feature on San Antonio’s pursuit of LaMarcus Aldridge over the summer, published before the Spurs’ win over the Blazers Wednesday night, is so compelling.

2. “Contract-Year Performers to Watch” – Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders

I would have to see some actual number crunches on the subject, but it does seem like a lot of players’ breakout years coincide with their upcoming free agency.

Greene quickly combs through 15 key guys from the 2016 free-agent class and what each player’s outlook is. With the cap exploding in the next few years, a lot of the guys he lists should be in for monster deals.

3. “Should the Timberwolves Keep Kevin Martin?” – Nolan Schmidt of Dunking With Wolves

In most circumstances, a player who’s good enough to score 17.7 points on 12.2 shots in 29.2 minutes per game would be considered a valuable piece to his team.

However, for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kevin Martin, that’s not the case.

Martin offers basically nothing on the court besides scoring. Also, Minnesota has plenty of young guys it wants to play and the 32-year-old doesn’t really fit the mentor bill (or, at least, not as well as Kevin Garnett and Andre Miller).

Schmidt dives into this situation and discusses whether the Timberwolves should trade their aging microwave off the bench.

4. “What the Hell Are the Lakers Doing With D’Angelo Russell?” – Kevin Draper of Deadspin

Lakers head coach Byron Scott is just riding the struggle bus hard right now.

He’s fully supportive of Kobe Bryant sabotaging the team, he’s not trusting his young players enough (the Lakers aren’t making the playoffs no matter what, so why keep them on the bench?) and he

Not playing Russell enough (he’s at 24.1 minutes per game) and not giving him the ball enough are problems either Byron needs to fix, or a problem the team’s higher-ups need to fix by firing him, which is preferable.

In case you weren’t already caught up with this situation, Draper has what you need to know.

5. “Have the Memphis Grizzlies Been Left Behind?” – Kaveh Jam of Hardwood Paroxysm

A lot of people predicted a Grizzlies decline this season, but just to a six, seven or eight seed in the Western Conference.

I don’t think many would have predicted a 3-6 record and the league’s second-worst point differential. The Grizzlies are being hampered by their notorious weaknesses, namely perimeter shooting, and their defense hasn’t been near solid enough to make up for it.

Starting 3-6 is tough to overcome in the Western Conference. Oh, sure, the Grizzlies will probably still make the playoffs, but these early-season losses could mean the difference between a first-round matchup against the Warriors (they’ve lost two games by a combined 66 points to them this season) and a tough, but beatable team for Memphis like the Houston Rockets or Los Angeles Clippers.

Jam gives an excellent breakdown of why Memphis is struggling so much this season.

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