Landry Shamet said it best after LaMarcus Aldridge made his Nets debut as their starting center on Thursday and played great at both ends of the floor to lead a 22-point rout of the Hornets.
"That guy’s a problem," said Shamet, meaning for opposing teams. "He’s going to help us. He’s going to help us a lot."
Playing for the first time in just over a month since negotiating a buyout with the Spurs, the seven-time All-Star had 11 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals and one blocked shot in 30 minutes. At 6-11, he can drop into the paint and protect the rim on defense. Offensively, he is one of the best in the game at posting up and shooting midrange jumpers or passing out of the double-team, and he is a solid three-point shooter.
Shamet isn’t the only one who recognized that Aldridge still can be a difference-maker even at the age of 35. "He’s always been a threat down there in the post," guard Kyrie Irving said. "When we’re throwing it down to him and teams are switching [on defense], it gives us great opportunities to swing the basketball but also go through LA, which slows the game down tremendously and we’re able to pick apart the defense instead of just coming off pick-and-rolls and trying to get downhill."
Nets coach Steve Nash spoke to former starting center DeAndre Jordan about moving him behind Aldridge and second-year man Nic Claxton and said he accepted it "with a terrific attitude and support for his teammates." But it’s clear Jordan is out of the rotation for the time being, especially because big man Blake Griffin, who was rested against the Hornets, figures to return against the Bulls Sunday in Chicago.
Asked if he ran any plays for Aldridge, Nash said, "They were switching on everything [on defense], so we rolled him in the post and threw it in to him. He was able to score, but more importantly, he was able to draw two defenders and kick it out, some assists were for…open threes. So that was effective. He knows our team wants to play like that."
Describing the role he hopes to fill for the Nets, Aldridge said, "When they talked to me, it was about trying to fill the void of when teams [switch] one through five, having a guy who can post up but then also having a guy who can be at the three line and still make the play. I think this is definitely ideal for me."
Aldridge was tickled with the reception he received from his new teammates after accepting the veteran’s minimum to sign with them as a free agent a week earlier.
"I’m just trying to take my time and let things come to me," Aldridge said. "These guys play so well off the ball, moving the ball, just sharing it. It was easy for me. I had fun tonight, for sure. I hit my first free throws, and everybody cheered for me. It’s been very nice, and everyone has been like a family to me, cheering me on. That’s nice to have."
Notes & quotes: The NBA on Friday announced that Nets star Kevin Durant has been fined $50,000 for using offensive and derogatory language on social media. Durant became involved in a running dispute with actor Michael Rappaport, who earlier this week published messages from Durant that contained profanity, a vague threat and a derogatory remark about the wife of the actor, who is a regular courtside presence at Nets and Knicks games. As Newsday previously reported, Durant apologized for his actions during a media interview on Thursday, saying, "I’m sorry that people [saw] that language I used. That’s not really what I want people to see and hear from me. Hopefully, I can move past it and get back out there on the floor."