The San Antonio Spurs are 28-15, third-place out west, and 5.5 games back of the Golden State Warriors. But, they’ve been without their superstar, Kawhi Leonard, for most of the season. That said, this hasn’t stopped the Spurs from recording the fourth-best record in the league. However, what if they would have been without LaMarcus Aldridge as well?
According to head coach Gregg Popovich, that could have very well been the case over summer.
“I said, ‘Whoa, nobody’s ever said that to me before,’” said Popovich.
“It’s my 20-whatever year, and nobody’s ever said that like, ‘I’m not enjoying this. … not confident. I’m not sure you want me here. I want to be traded.‘”
Aldridge would undergo arguably the worst season of his career last year. Popovich, however, would publicly state that Aldridge’s struggles were primarily due to “over-coaching.” So Pop and Aldridge would have a little heart-to-heart, culminating with this.
“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.‘”
But Pop does’t stop there.
“… ‘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.’ And we did.”
Eventually, the two parties would agree to a three-year extension worth $72 million. Now, Aldridge is having the best season of his three years with the Spurs. And with Kawhi Leonard out for the majority of the season, it couldn’t have come at a better time.