SAN ANTONIO (AP) — San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge will be out indefinitely due to a minor heart arrhythmia, the latest occurrence of heart issues for the five-time All-Star.
Aldridge will have further tests before the Spurs can determine just how long he will be out, the team announced on Saturday. Aldridge has had heart issues in the past and was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome — an abnormality that can cause a rapid heartbeat — as a rookie in 2007.
“All parties have concluded that at the current time it is best for Aldridge to refrain from play until further tests and examinations are completed,” the Spurs said in a statement.
Aldridge missed the final seven games of his rookie season after doctors used an ablation — a procedure designed to treat tissue in the heart to make the heartbeat regular again — to treat him and get him back on the court. He also needed an ablation during training camp in 2011, but was able to return to the court in time to play in the preseason and made the All-Star team for Portland that season.
The Spurs were well aware of Aldridge’s heart issue when they signed him to a max contract as a free agent in 2015. It has always been considered a minor situation and he has been able to return to playing relatively quickly after each episode, but they still weren’t taking any chances.
“Unexpected, but it’s a sensitive issue, so we want to make sure that he’s fine,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili told reporters at the team’s shootaround on Saturday morning. “The most important thing is to have him healthy. We’ll wait as long as is necessary for him to feel secure and sure, and the team, too.”
The news for Aldridge comes on the heels of star forward Kawhi Leonard being placed in the league’s concussion protocol. That means that the second-seeded Spurs will play the top-seeded Golden State Warriors on Saturday night without their two best players. It remains unclear how long Leonard will be out.
“This is tough when you lose your two best scorers in a single day,” Ginobili said. “This is tough to face.”
But the Warriors will be short-handed as well. Coach Steve Kerr is resting Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala at the end of a grueling 13-day stretch of the schedule.
The 6-foot-11 Aldridge is averaging 17.3 points and 7.4 rebounds for the Spurs (50-14), who have the second best record in the league and trail the Warriors by 1½ games in the West.
The Spurs are also missing point guards Tony Parker (back) and Dejounte Murray (groin).
It remains unclear how coach Gregg Popovich will juggle the roster to account for Aldridge’s absence. He does have veteran David Lee and rookie Davis Bertans as other power forwards on the roster. Depending on matchups, he also may be able to slide Pau Gasol from center to power forward.