Aldridge’s trade request sparked his resurgence, says Popovich
Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge is having his best days so far as a member of the San Antonio Spurs.
After a couple of mediocre seasons since he signed with the Spurs in 2015, Aldridge is finally playing true to form this season.
But Aldridge’s resurgence wouldn’t have happened after the five-time All-Star wanted out of the Spurs over the offseason.
Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich revealed Aldridge’s trade request to ESPN.com, adding that the same plea is also the reason for the Dallas, Texas native’s impressive campaign.
“When he said, ‘I want to be traded,’” Popovich told ESPN when asked about Aldridge’s current success.
“It’s as simple as that,” Popovich said. “I said, ‘Whoa, nobody’s ever said that to me before.’ It’s my 20-whatever year, and nobody’s ever said that, like, ‘I’m not enjoying this. I’m not confident. I’m not sure you want me here. I want to be traded.’”
Popovich said his conversations with Aldridge transpired during “some dinners and meetings” and from how he saw it, those interactions weren’t as intense as it would have been.
“So we had some dinners and meetings and laughed,” Popovich said. “I was very candid with him. I told him, ‘I’d be happy to trade you. You get me a talent like Kevin Durant, and I’ll drive you to the airport. I’ll pack your bags. And I will drive you there, get you on the plane, and get you seated.’ He laughed, you know, that kind of thing.
“I said, ‘But short of that, I’m your best buddy because you’re here for another year, and you ain’t going nowhere. Because we’re not gonna get for you talentwise what we would want. So let’s figure this thing out.’ And we did. That’s what we came to.”
Popovich also took the blame for Aldridge’s setbacks for making him play differently.
“As discussions went on, it became apparent to me that it really was me,” Popovich said. “He’d played in the league for nine years. I’m not going to turn him into some other player. I could do some things defensively or reboundingwise. But on offense, I was going to move him everywhere. … That was just silly on my part — total overcoaching. So we took care of it, and he’s been fantastic.”
The 32-year-old Aldridge averaged 17.3 points per game last season, his lowest since his rookie season in Portland.
This season, Aldridge is norming 22.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
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