Brooklyn Boro

LaMarcus Aldridge returning to Nets in 2021-22

All-Star forward cleared to play following heart scare

September 7, 2021 John Torenli, Sports Editor
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Ya gotta have heart!

Or at least one that is healthy enough to allow you to play an NBA season in LaMarcus Aldridge’s case.

Just five months removed from leaving the Nets and retiring from the league following a well-decorated 15-year career due to a heart condition, Aldridge is coming back to our borough on a one-year, $2.6 million deal to help Brooklyn capture its first major pro sports championship since 1955.

“I retired in April based on what I believed was the wisest precautionary decision for my personal health at the time,” said Aldridge, who signed with the Nets last March only to find out that his irregular heartbeat might interfere with his ability to get up and down the court.

His absence was doubtlessly felt when Brooklyn got knocked out by eventual NBA champion Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Nets were without point guard Kyrie Irving (ankle) and James Harden was limited due to a nagging hamstring injury in the playoffs, leaving Kevin Durant to carry the load for Brooklyn before it lost Game 7 at home to the Bucks.

Aldridge, a seven-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA Second Team selection, may have helped the Nets’ shorthanded roster advance to the conference finals if he continued the campaign.

He was averaging 12.8 points per game on 52 percent shooting before his short-lived retirement.

But now he’s back.

“Further testing and evaluation by several top physicians has convinced the doctors, myself and the Nets that I’m fully cleared and able to return to the rigors of the NBA,” he revealed last weekend via a statement to ESPN.

The former Portland Trail Blazer and San Antonio Spur is aching to get back in the mix as the Nets continue their pursuit of the franchise’s first-ever title in 2021-22.

“I loved my brief time with Brooklyn and am excited to rejoin the team in pursuit of a championship,” he said.

Aldridge’s return comes on the heels of veteran center DeAndre Jordan’s departure.

DeAndre Jordan was traded to Detroit over the weekend after spending the past two seasons in Brooklyn. AP Photo by Mary Altaffer

Jordan, who is rumored to be headed to the Los Angeles Lakers, was dealt to Detroit Saturday for forward Sekou Doumbouya and center Jahlil Okafor.

The Nets also sent second-round draft picks in 2022, 2024 (via Washington), 2025 (via Golden State) and 2027 to the Pistons, along with cash considerations.

“We appreciate everything DeAndre has contributed to our organization over the past two seasons both on and off the court and wish him and his family the best moving forward,” said Nets general manager Sean Marks.

Jordan came to Brooklyn during the historic summer of 2019, when Marks picked up Durant and Irving in an attempt to thrust the Nets into the NBA title conversation.

He averaged 7.9 points and 8.7 rebounds over 113 games for Brooklyn, shooting a blistering 71 percent from the field on thunderous dunks and emphatic putbacks.

Doumbouya averaged 5.6 points over 94 games for Detroit over the last two years and Okafor has spent the past six seasons playing for the Pistons, New Orleans, Brooklyn and Philadelphia, putting up 10.4 points and 4.7 boards per contest.

Aldridge filled the roster spot vacated by forward Alize Johnson, who was waived last weekend after signing a multi-year deal with the Nets on April 11.

Alize Johnson was waived by the Nets after helping them reach the conference semifinals last season. AP Photo by John Locher

Johnson signed a pair of 10-day contracts with the Nets before Marks cemented his status as a full-time NBA player. He averaged 5.2 points and 5.0 rebounds while logging about 10 minutes per game off the bench for Brooklyn last season.

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