LaMarcus Aldridge Details Talk with Gregg Popovich over Being Unhappy with Spurs

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2017

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 19:  Head Coach Gregg Popovich talks with LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs during the game against the Sacramento Kings on March 19, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photos by Darren Carroll/NBAE via Getty Images)
Darren Carroll/Getty Images

San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge said he initiated a conversation with head coach Gregg Popovich over the summer in hopes of becoming a better fit in the team's system.

On Thursday, Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com passed along comments the former Portland Trail Blazers star made about his talk with Popovich after two unsettled seasons with the Spurs.

"It was me kind of being blunt about it, and being kind of forward," Aldridge said. "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."

The 32-year-old Texas native averaged 19.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists across nine seasons with the Blazers, highlighted by a career-best 23.4 points per game during his final year in Portland.

His role has been reduced, especially at the offensive end, since joining a San Antonio squad with more star power and a coach in Popovich who prefers to limit the minutes of his top players.

In turn, Aldridge has averaged 17.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists since signing a four-year, $84 million contract with the Spurs in July 2015.

Popovich, whom the NBA's general managers voted as the league's best coach in their annual survey, told Wright the forward's concerns are "legitimate" and said the staff will work to help improve the situation.

"We have talked about what we can do to make him more comfortable, and to make our team better," he said. "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."

Meanwhile, Aldridge said the Spurs are planning a more concerted effort to work the ball into the post this season, but he understands he'll need to work harder to create more touches for himself.

"It was an afterthought [to get me the ball early]. But it was both [probably my fault and the team's] because I didn't feel like I would get it," he said. "So I probably didn't run the floor as hard, or I didn't seal as good. Then, they didn't look for me. Then, when we both thought about it, it was too late. But this year, knowing that it's going to be a point of emphasis, I'm going to run harder. I'm going to duck in harder, and they're going to look for me faster. So it's going to be better."

San Antonio is going to need a strong season from the five-time All-Star selection if it wants to keep pace with the reigning champion Golden State Warriors, as well as the improved Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Minnesota Timberwolves in the loaded Western Conference.

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