It turns out the rumors regarding LaMarcus Aldridge’s unhappiness with the San Antonio Spurs were true. Not only that, he expressed his frustration to head coach Gregg Popovich.
From ESPN.com’s Michael C. Wright:
Having already stomached the uneasy feeling of not being used in San Antonio’s system the way he’d envisioned, a disastrous showing in the Western Conference finals took it over the top, along with an offseason in which San Antonio attempted to trade Aldridge. The five-time All-Star decided it was finally time to get it all off his chest, so he asked for a heart-to-heart sitdown over the summer with Popovich.
“It was me kind of being blunt about it, and being kind of forward,” Aldridge recently told ESPN during training camp. “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.”
This little sit-down between Pop and Aldridge should scare the rest of the league. It means that coach and player are on the same page—or so it seems—and that’s never good news for the field when the Spurs involved.
Seriously, though, Aldridge’s candor with Pop should help. They have to better understand each other now, and if he doesn’t have a full-on grasp of what his role is within the system, Popovich can focus on making sure he gets there as the season wears on.
Whether this results in more production from Aldridge is up in the air. But more clarity is never a bad thing. Aldridge should, at the very least, enter 2017-18 with a better idea of what’s expected of him—from his usage in the offense, to how many three-pointers he should be taking, to how often the Spurs must stash him at the center position. And with Kawhi Leonard currently sidelined, his status for opening night up in the air, this meeting of the minds between Aldridge and Popovich is exactly what the Spurs needed to ensure their depth and culture and general performance remains as Spurs-y as possible.
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