San Antonio Spurs head coach Greg Popovich candidly discussed the offseason trade request made by forward LaMarcus Aldridge, admitting that it not only shocked him, but was the catalyst of a better understanding between the coach and player.
“When he [Aldridge] said, ‘I want to be traded'” Popovich said (h/t ESPN) when asked about what led to Aldridge’s resurgence this season.
“It’s as simple as that,” Popovich said. “I said, ‘Whoa, nobody’s ever said that to me before.’ It’s my 20-whatever year, and nobody’s ever said that, like, ‘I’m not enjoying this. I’m not confident. I’m not sure you want me here. I want to be traded.'”
Aldridge talked about the conversation prior to the season, in an interview with ESPN, stating that he “just spilled my heart about how I felt about how things were, and how things had been going.”
“So we had some dinners and meetings and laughed,” Popovich said. “I was very candid with him. 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.’ He laughed, you know, that kind of thing.
“I said, ‘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 talentwise what we would want. So, let’s figure this thing out.’ And we did. That’s what we came to.”
Aldridge has rebounded from a rough start with the Spurs, averaging 25.3 points over his past eight games, and notching four double-doubles over his last five games.
“As discussions went on, it became apparent to me that it really was me,” Popovich said. “He’d been playing in the league for nine years. I’m not going to turn him into some other player. I could do some things defensively or reboundingwise. But on offense, I was going to move him everywhere. That was just silly on my part — total overcoaching. So, we took care of it, and he’s been fantastic.”
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Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan Upset Over Sportsnet’s Raptors Video
San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan isn’t too happy about a video from Sportsnet that took shots at players from the past such as Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, and Tracy McGrady, although it gave a nod to DeRozan.
Still, DeRozan isn’t happy with the video, which he saw as disrespectful.
“I felt some type of way (about the video), for sure,” DeRozan said of the video, according to The Athletic. “It wasn’t even for me, but for the previous guys. For Vince, T-Mac, to Chris, you can’t undermine anything that they did. Without them, there wouldn’t have been that team we had last year, two years ago, five years ago. There wouldn’t be the team that’s there now if it wasn’t for my time there, so don’t undermine the people that came before us. I just didn’t like that.”
Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan Talks Debut With New Team
San Antonio Spurs star DeMar DeRozan took the court for the first time not wearing a Toronto Raptors jersey, and although it looked weird at first DeRozan seemed to fit right in with the team that acquired via trade over this past summer.
DeRozan played 18 minutes and finished with seven points on 3-of-6 shooting.
“Just getting out there, lacing them up in front of the fans for the first time, it was fun,” DeRozan said, according to ESPN’s Michael C. Wright.
“I’m glad I got to get the rust and kinks out and [got to] go out and get that part out of the way. It’s going to come along. I’m not worried at all. I was out there more anxious than anything.”
DeRozan knows that the transition is a process, but believes things will only get better moving forward.
“As the next few days go by, the next few games, it’s only going to get easier and easier,” DeRozan said. “I expect I’ll be rusty. Just go out there and try to feel things out and understand what I can get better at.”
“It’s pretty much a given that team-oriented players, when they get into situation like DeMar’s in now, he’s gonna probably pick and choose a little bit,” Spurs head coach Greg Popovich said. “He’s gonna take his time, get the lay of the land, figure out his teammates, and in that respect I thought he was great. He looked for his stuff, he helped with his teammates. It was a great first outing for him.”
Teammate Rudy Gay understands what DeRozan is going through, joining the Spurs himself last season.
“We had a couple guys who have been there. We have them on the court and you throw DeMar in, and we could pretty much coach him just like I was coached last year,” Gay said. “It’s easier that way to keep a couple veterans out there with DeMar so he can learn where he’ll be most productive. The younger guys? They’re just playing, trying to find their way, and coach is trying to figure out where he can put them in the lineup and how our team can benefit off of each one of them.”
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