Gregg Popovich Said LaMarcus Aldridge Was 1st Player He's Had Ask to Be Traded

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 11, 2018

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 21:  LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs meets with head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs in the fourth quarter against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center on October 21, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. 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. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

LaMarcus Aldridge apparently did something no San Antonio Spurs player has ever done during the Gregg Popovich era: ask for a trade.

Popovich said Thursday he and Aldridge talked over his future with the team after the five-time All-Star inquired about a move away from San Antonio this summer, ESPN.com's Michael C. Wright reported.

Prior to the start of the 2017-18 season, Aldridge discussed his meeting with Popovich.

"I think he was kind of caught off guard," he said last October, per Wright. "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 two sides were able to hash out their differences, because Aldridge signed a three-year extension with the team.

In reporting on the $72 million deal, ESPN.com's Adrian Wojnarowski noted the interest in an Aldridge trade wasn't coming from just the player's camp. According to Wojnarowski, the Spurs discussed potential deals with teams around the league in the summer before deciding to keep the 32-year-old.

The move—or lack thereof—has worked out well for everybody involved. With Kawhi Leonard limited to just eight games, San Antonio has needed Aldridge to take on a bigger role, and he has more than delivered.

The 12-year veteran is averaging 22.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, both of which are his highest since joining the Spurs. The team is 3.8 points better per 100 possessions with Aldridge on the floor as well, per NBA.com.

Whereas Aldridge's future looked to be uncertain after his underwhelming showing in the 2017 playoffs, he has become a key piece for the Spurs as they look to topple the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

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