San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge asked his head coach for a trade last season, Gregg Popovich revealed, per ESPN.
When asked what brought about Aldridge’s resurgence this season, Popovich told reporters: “When he said, ‘I want to be traded.’ It’s as simple as that. I said, ‘Woah, 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 believed that Aldridge’s trade request had gone public at the time, but he was wrong; Aldridge’s discontent and unhappiness with the Spurs was repeatedly reported, but the fact that he actually asked for a trade is news.
Popovich says that he told Aldridge: “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… 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 talent-wise what we would want. So, let’s figure this thing out.”
Figure it out they did. Popovich admitted that Aldridge’s struggles were largely his fault for trying to turn him into a player he’s not; Popovich said that it was “total overcoaching.”
Last season, Aldridge’s points-per-game (17.3) and rebounds-per-game (7.3) averages were the lowest he’d posted since his rookie season. He did shoot a career-high 41.1 percent from 3-point range, but only attempted 0.8 of those shots a game.
This season, we’ve seen the LaMarcus Aldridge we saw in Portland. He has been – as Popovich put it – “fantastic” this season. He’s averaging 22.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game on 49.4 percent shooting from the field.