Aldridge: 'I spilled my heart' to Popovich over summer

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Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

When LaMarcus Aldridge decided to sign with the San Antonio Spurs over the Phoenix Suns in 2015, his faith in head coach Gregg Popovich and the belief that Aldridge could be a valuable asset in his system reportedly played a huge part in his choice.

But his transition to San Antonio has been rocky, to say the least. The Spurs were unsuccessful in their attempts to move the 32-year-old big man over the summer following an abysmal showing in the 2017 NBA playoffs, and Aldridge felt the need to sit down with Popovich and voice his frustrations during the offseason.

"It was me kind of being blunt about it, and being kind of forward," Aldridge told ESPN's Michael C. Wright. "He was open to it. I kind of just spilled my heart about how I felt about how things were, and how things had been going.

"I think he was kind of caught off guard. I don't think he really had noticed (that I was unhappy). But once I said it, he was great about listening, and it was good from there. I felt like I wasn't really fitting into the system as best I could. I wasn't really helping like I felt I could."

Popovich was receptive to Aldridge's concerns, and admitted the player had just cause for feeling the way he did.

"This is a guy who played for nine years, I believe, before he came here," Popovich said, "and it takes time to get used to a program that is not just new. But when you have nine years under your belt, doing something different, his concerns are totally legitimate.

"We have talked about what we can do to make him more comfortable, and to make our team better. But having said that, I think we are mostly talking about offense. Defense, he was fantastic for us. Now, we have got to help him a little bit more so that he is comfortable in his own space offensively, and I haven't done a very good job of that."

Aldridge's numbers in 2016-17 were his worst since his rookie campaign. He averaged 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks on 47.7 percent shooting - a far cry from the double-double of 23.4 points and 10.4 boards he contributed during his final year with the Portland Trail Blazers.

When teammate Kawhi Leonard went down in the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors, Aldridge failed to step up in his absence. He was a non-factor on the defensive end, and turned the ball over more times (eight) than he hit a shot (seven) in the 43 minutes immediately following Leonard's tumble.

"I didn't go into the summer and say, 'Oh, I'm going to try to work hard just because of that series,'" Aldridge added. "I wasn't sick about it. Everybody wants to win and I want to win. It didn't go ideally. But I went home, and I got better ...

"I think I'm still able to play at (an All-Star) level, and I don't feel like I've declined to not be in the top 10-15 guys in the league. I feel like I can still help teams win, and bring something dominant into the game. I've done my part. I went home, and worked hard. Hopefully, it pays off."