One of those intriguing trade ideas that steal our attention in these stale summer months gained a bit of steam recently.
At some point, someone suggested the Thunder sends Serge Ibaka to Portland for LaMarcus Aldridge.
Little by little, the idea began to spread. One prominent writer after another, it seemed, jumped on board the belief that Aldridge would be the final piece to the Thunder's championship puzzle.
Their logic never really made much sense.
And here's why.
Ibaka, despite his shortcomings, still is younger, cheaper and more battle tested than Aldridge.
Aldridge just turned 28. Ibaka will be 24 when the season begins.
Aldridge will make nearly $15 million this season. Ibaka will be closer to $12 million.
Aldridge has appeared in 18 playoff games and never made it out of the first round. Ibaka has appeared in 54 playoff games, experienced the conference finals twice and the NBA Finals once.
At this point in their careers, Aldridge is the better player. Few would debate that. But what the popular ESPN Trade Machine can't take into account is fit.
Aldridge has averaged better than 21 points in each of the last three seasons. But he also averaged at least 17 shots in each of those seasons, putting him on par with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant's volume. In Oklahoma City, Aldridge would have to adjust to being third banana after years of being the go-to guy.
The Miami Heat, for comparison's sake, got 17.8 shots per game from LeBron James last year, 15.8 per game from Dwyane Wade and 12.3 per game from Chris Bosh.
There's also this fallacy that Aldridge is a great low-post scorer, or at least the presence OKC needs. In reality, he's just as much of a jump shooter as Ibaka.
According to nba.com/stats, only 35 percent of Aldridge's offense originates from within eight feet. From that same distance, Ibaka's rate is 46 percent. Meanwhile, Aldridge attempts 43.4 percent of his shots from 15 to 24 feet. Ibaka's percentage of attempts from that distance is 41.6 percent.
The Aldridge you see in Portland simply couldn't be the same Aldridge with the Thunder.
But Ibaka, so far at least, has been willing and able to sacrifice and play his role. That role includes some important defense that, while far from perfect, still gives the Thunder an interior presence and an intimidator that Aldridge is not.
Aldridge also isn't a consistent rebounder. His 9.1 rebounds per game this season were a career high and marked the first time he's averaged more than eight rebounds. So the Thunder wouldn't necessarily be upgrading there either.
Aldridge is a far superior passer and much more adept at creating for himself, and both of those skills would add a scary dynamic to the Thunder's offense.
But with Aldridge's higher price tag, his drop off on defense, his lack of postseason experience and his need to be the primary option, the Thunder is better off continuing with Ibaka.