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#pounditMonday, November 29, 2021

Pat Riley reportedly meeting with LaMarcus Aldridge in L.A.

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Sound the alarm. A new contender has emerged from behind the shadows and unexpectedly tossed its hat into the ring in the LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes. The Godfather is alive and well as Pat Riley and the Miami Heat are now said to be in hot pursuit of the top prize of the 2015 free agency period.

Riley is reportedly in Los Angeles on vacation but as it turns out, he may be tending to some business matters in the City of Angels as he is now slated to meet Aldridge over dinner on Thursday night.

Wow. It appears that after coming to terms with Goran Dragic on Wednesday, then Dwyane Wade on Thursday, Pat Riley might not be done just yet.

Though the Heat have little money to offer and the starting frontcourt positions are already filled by Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside, this could be an instance of Pat Riley showing that he can still get into a room with top free agents (something that has long been his calling card) and reminding rival teams that he’s still a very big threat as 2016 and the free agency of Kevin Durant approach.

For Aldridge in Miami to even make sense financially, the Heat would have to do a lot of roster maneuvering.

However, if they are willing to include Whiteside in a sign-and-trade with Portland and if they are able to find a taker to dump the contracts of guys like Mario Chalmers, Chris “Birdman” Andersen, and Josh McRoberts on, then things could get interesting.

A starting lineup of Dragic-Wade-Luol Deng-Aldridge-Bosh would be sacrificing a ton defensively but would offer a positionless, pace-and-space offensive monster unlike any the NBA has ever seen. Bosh has championship experience playing at the 5 and the presence of two elite shooting bigs would open up driving lanes and kick-outs to shooters galore for Wade and Dragic’s playmaking abilities to thrive.

Gambling on Whiteside’s future is a dicey proposition for Miami as with his attitude issues, he could combust at any time and find himself the next Andrew Bynum or Larry Sanders just as soon as he could find himself the next dominant big man. It’s unclear if Portland values him since Whiteside can leave in free agency for nothing in 2016 with zero advantages available for retaining him. But after trading away Nicolas Batum and overpaying the likes of Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis in free agency, it would be just the type of desperate move that has characterized the Blazers so far this offseason.

If the Heat really want to make this happen, for me, the only untouchables on the roster are Goran, Wade, Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Justise Winslow. Everyone else is fair game.

So let’s hold our breaths and see what happens with Riley’s dinner with Aldridge on Thursday. Does Pat throw his rings on the table in front of Aldridge and just stare at him for the duration of it? Maybe, but if one thing’s for sure, it’s that the NBA is learning once again that you never count out The Godfather when it comes time for free agency.

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