LaMarcus Aldridge had a bumpy start in San Antonio, and Coach Gregg Popovich revealed Thursday night that the Spurs star came to him in the last offseason to ask to be traded.
"I was very candid with him. I said, 'I'd be happy to trade you,'" Popovich told reporters Thursday night before the Spurs' game in Los Angeles against the Lakers. "'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 and get you on the plane and get you seated.'"
The Spurs had a tough time fitting Aldridge into an offense dominated by the surging Kawhi Leonard, the former NBA Finals MVP and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Aldridge came to San Antonio from Portland in part because he tired of being the second option in the Trail Blazers' offense, according to reports at the time.
Popovich wasn't done. "'But short of (getting Durant), 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.' And we did. That's what we came to."
The Spurs have needed Aldridge this year. He has emerged as the team's best player while Leonard has been out for all but eight games due to injuries.
The Spurs are 28-15 and perched in their normal spot in the top end of the Western Conference standings.
"As discussions went on, it became apparent to me that it really was me. He's been playing in the league for nine years. I'm not going to turn him into some other player," Popovich said. "I could do some things defensively or rebounding-wise. But on offense, I was going to move him everywhere."
"Total overcoaching," Popovich said. "So we took care of it, and he's been fantastic."