LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t come to the Nets to make it “The Big Four.”
But he isn’t looking to lead the bench mob, either.
In his first comments since surprisingly choosing the Nets over the Heat, Aldridge explained how he and the team see eye-to-eye on his ability to stretch the floor as a 3-point shooting center who can open driving lanes for Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.
“I’m not here to be an All-Star,” Aldridge said after Tuesday’s practice. “That’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m just trying to bring value, try to bring the things I’m good at, and trying to help this team win. I’m not worried about being an All-Star anymore.”
A short time later, however, Aldridge halted his own introductory news conference after 12 minutes. Not exactly typical of a role player.
“If you could start, you’re always going to want to start,” Aldridge said. “I think anyone that’s competitive will say they want that and you’re going to fight for that, so I’m definitely trying to do my job and hopefully I get it. As far as minutes, I think if you go out and you compete and you do everything you can, everything is going to be fine. And we’re all here to win, so it’s not about that.”
Durant, who hasn’t played since Feb. 13 with a hamstring strain, took a break from berating actor Michael Rapaport over social media the last three months to recruit Aldridge. James Harden and others chimed in, but Aldridge and Durant both are Texas alums who missed being college teammates by one season.
“You’re listening to teams and listening to players telling you what they want, and Brooklyn made it known right away that they were very interested,” Aldridge said. “KD hit me quick and said definitely come here. It was just waiting it out, weighing my options, and then I just ended up coming here. It’s a pretty good team, and I definitely think I can help.”
The Nets are more than a “pretty good team.” They have the best championship odds in the Eastern Conference after adding Aldridge and Blake Griffin after their contracts were bought out by the Spurs and Pistons, respectively. Now, it’s up to coach Steve Nash to juggle egos.
Defensive-minded center DeAndre Jordan has started 35 of 45 games this season. He was coming off the bench last season until the Nets fired coach Kenny Atkinson, and interim coach Jacque Vaughn immediately moved Jordan ahead of Jarrett Allen. Aldridge’s career résumé is much different than that of the since-traded 2017 first-round pick Allen.
“I feel like I help fill a void of having a bigger ‘5’ man that can score and play defense,” Aldridge said. “DJ’s great and he brings great value to the team, but it was more about I think I fill a void of being able to have more offense in the game, being able to take the 3.”
Aldridge won’t play Wednesday against the Rockets and his debut date will depend upon his conditioning needs. The Nets also could be without Landry Shamet (questionable with a right ankle sprain), but will have forward Alize Johnson on his second 10-day contract after he had a 23-point, 15-rebound game last week.
The 6-foot-11 Aldridge has made 88 of his 209 3-pointers since the start of last season, shooting at a 37.9 percent clip from behind the arc as his game transformed.
“That’s, I think, as valuable a piece for us as his shooting in the midrange,” Nash said. “He’s a very capable 3-point shooter and that spaces the floor and opens us up for higher-value opportunities at the rim or wide-open 3s.
“His sacrifice, he understands that this is a different role and a different team, a different way of playing. I want him to find that natural balance between the way he has traditionally played and the way we play so that he’s comfortable — and at the same time effective in helping our team improve.”