http://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/nba/suns/2015/07/01/phoenix-suns-lamarcus-aldridge-free-agency/29587497/The Suns' Wednesday meeting with free agent LaMarcus Aldridge might have closed some ground in their chase for a much-needed star.
With an intricate plan in place for the first day of free agency, the Suns showed Aldridge what type of team that they envision being before they even met with him. The Suns opened free agency by adding veteran center Tyson Chandler with a four-year, $52 million agreement and by coming to terms to keep guard Brandon Knight on a five-year, $70 million contract.
Those were important to do first because Chandler and Knight were along for the ride when the Suns brought an eight-man contingent for a two-hour meeting with Aldridge, who is believed to be mainly considering San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Phoenix.
The meeting was broken into segments, starting with Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver meeting alone with Aldridge. President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby and General Manager Ryan McDonough had the next meeting. After the brass' pitch, it was the coaches' turn with head coach Jeff Hornacek and new assistant coach Earl Watson, Aldridge's 2013-14 teammate in Portland.
The talks closed with a players-only group of Knight, Chandler and Suns guard Eric Bledsoe talking to Aldridge. Bledsoe's inclusion in the meeting is another indication that the Suns are not looking to include Bledsoe in an Aldridge sign-and-trade deal, the latest in a series of off-base trade rumors regarding Bledsoe.
Signing Aldridge would require payroll moves because the Suns entered free agency with $12 million of space. They are able to exceed the cap to sign Knight to his five-year, $70 million contract because he is a restricted free agent. P.J. Tucker was not included in the meeting even though he and Aldridge were teammates for two seasons at Texas.
Aldridge, who turns 30 on July 19, is an ideal system fit for a Suns upgrade, especially alongside a defensive and rebounding stalwart such as Chandler. Aldridge is coming off his most decorated season in nine years with Portland. He was an All-NBA second-team selection for averaging a career-high 23.4 points and 10.2 rebounds per game and introducing a 3-point shooting threat (35 percent) to his game. Aldridge has been named an All-Star the past four seasons.