LaMarcus Aldridge, Dez Bryant and DeAndre Jordan are all after the same thing: A world championship.
Three Texans with plenty of individual accolades can all point to a team title as the ultimate goal.
So which one has the best chance to win the big one?
Before we get to that answer, let’s take a look at each case separately, then add up the chips when the dealing’s done.
Let’s start with Aldridge, the former Longhorn who grew up a few basketball courts south of American Airlines Arena. Seagoville’s most famous product was easily the prized catch in the free agent sweepstakes this offseason, so much so that the Los Angeles Lakers tried to woo him with a push from Kobe and a nice marketing slogan (LA to LA).
Easy decision. Shoot, Shaq is closer to making a good movie than the Lake Show is to another championship, so Aldridge turned them and six other teams down to join the San Antonio Spurs, in his mind a turnkey franchise when it comes to collecting hardware.
It’s the ideal fit for the only player to average over 23 points and 10 rebounds per game over the last two seasons.
How Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford continue to convince their core players to take less money to keep the franchise in the title chase year in and year out is something to behold. Aldridge joins Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, bargain-basement-priced free agent David West and the newest superstar Kawhi Leonard to give San Antonio sole possession of second most dangerous team in the West, next to the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Imagine Aldridge playing power forward with Duncan at center. That’s 35 points and 20 rebounds a night and we haven’t even gotten to the perimeter guys yet.
Sticking with the hoops theme, let’s tackle Jordan. I’m sure Dallas owner Mark Cuban would prefer the word “strangle” after DJ reneged on an agreement. Jordan showed the maturity of a high school senior – what was this, national signing day? – in his handling of his free agency, but all things considered, his decision to return to the Clippers was the best he could make if we’re talking about title potential.
The Mavericks weren’t going to win one with him and they’re certainly not going to win one without him in 2016.
His original attraction to Dallas was the opportunity to become a franchise player after toiling as the third or fourth option with the Clippers. That said, a center who shoots 40 percent from the free-throw line and is not named Shaq or Wilt won’t be leading any team anywhere. He’s best as the third option in L.A., which gives him his best chance to win a title.
With football season fast approaching, I saved the Dez for last.
Before he got his $45 million guaranteed, Bryant’s threat to sit out the regular season put me in the mind of Emmitt Smith back in the day. The Cowboys had just won their first Jimmy-Jerry Super Bowl in 1992, and Emmitt led the league with 1,713 yards, but did it at a salary of $465,000, well south of the $1.8 million Barry Sanders pulled in that year.
So Emmitt held out and Jerry held firm, that is, until the Cowboys started 0-2 with Derrick Lassic at running back. Emmitt eventually got his money, rushed for more than 1,500 yards in just 14 games, and the Cowboys became the first team to open the season with two straight losses and win a Super Bowl.
Jerrah didn’t want to go through that sort of thing again. Bryant is the best player on this team and a top-five player at his position, right there with Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown. His three-year average of 91 catches for 1,311 yards and 13 touchdowns is proof enough.
So which Texan will be wearing a title ring at season’s end?
I love Dez, but Dallas’ problems at running back have cooled me on the thought of them having a better chance to win a Super Bowl than the Spurs do at winning the NBA Finals. Jordan going back to the Clippers still doesn’t guarantee them getting out of the West.
That leaves me with Aldridge. His new team may be a little long in the tooth, but it’s built to win now.
Aldridge is the missing piece and the Spurs will be in the mix for title number six.
Contact Cedric Golden at 512-912-5944.