According to a source, with the Rockets reaching agreements with starting point guard Patrick Beverley and backup forward Corey Brewer on Friday, it strengthens their package for Aldridge, the superstar free agent power forward.
The Rockets reached a four-year, $23 million deal with Beverley and a three-year, $23.4 million contract with Brewer. Beverley is considered one of the better defensive point guards in the league and Brewer is a solid bench player, who averaged 11.9 points per game last season.
On Tuesday, when the Rockets met with Aldridge, he was apparently impressed with the Rockets' presentation of how he fits with the team from an analytics standpoint. Also part of the Rockets' plan to sign Aldridge: The team wants to show him there's some experience on the bench (Brewer) and a commitment to defense at the guard position (Beverley).
In order to make an Aldridge deal happen, the Rockets would have to do a sign-and-trade with another team.
ESPN's Marc Stein reported Aldridge has no plans to make any more out-of-town visits and will review all of the pitches he's received the past few days.
In addition to the Rockets, the Los Angeles Lakers (twice), San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat have met with Aldridge. Additionally, he canceled a scheduled meeting with the New York Knicks, according to reports, when it revealed the team wanted him to move to center.
When the season ended, Harden expressed to the Rockets the need to get another playmaker in the backcourt, something the team can still do in free agency. With Aldridge, the Rockets would get a player who averaged a career-high 23.4 points per game last season and a career-high 3.7 Defensive Wins Shares.
At the start of free agency, it was clear the Rockets would have needed to shed significant salaries off their salary cap to help make room for Aldridge. Possibilities include starting small forward Trevor Ariza ($8.2 million), guard Kostas Papanikolaou ($4.8 million) and guard Pablo Prigioni ($1.7 million). Papanikolaou and Prigioni's contracts are not guaranteed. The ability to re-sign Beverley, Brewer and Josh Smith, a power forward, would also be in doubt.
After the deals on Friday, finding a trade partner is the best way for the Rockets to fit Aldridge into their plans, should he decide to sign a contract with them.