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#pounditSunday, December 5, 2021

LaMarcus Aldridge reportedly explored trade back to Blazers amid rift with Spurs

LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge got off to a rocky start with the San Antonio Spurs in his first two seasons with the team, which is why it was such a surprise when he signed a three-year extension back in October. Prior to that, his relationship with Gregg Popovich and the team was apparently even worse than it seemed.

Ken Berger of Bleacher Report wrote on Thursday that Popovich’s ability to repair his relationship with a star player — such as Kawhi Leonard — should not be underestimated. For evidence of that, he cited a source who claimed Aldridge was trying to facilitate a trade back to the Portland Trail Blazers last year, and Pop managed to straighten things out.

Still, multiple league sources advised not to underestimate Popovich’s ability to repair the team’s relationship with Leonard. Last season, a deep rift developed between the team and All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, to the point where Aldridge called former teammate Damian Lillard and asked him to approach general manager Neil Olshey about bringing Aldridge back to Portland, a person familiar with the conversation told B/R.

“You can never say done because everybody thought that the Aldridge thing was over and that there was no chance to salvage that,” one of the people said. “Pop went in and smoothed it over. You can’t underestimate the power of the Pop in these situations.”

If you remember, Popovich was extremely candid in admitting that he did not handle Aldridge properly when the star big man first got to San Antonio. The situation with Leonard is a bit different, but there have been indications that things aren’t all that bad between Leonard and Pop.

Whatever Popvich did to fix the Aldridge situation seems to have worked. Aldridge had one of the best seasons of his career this year, averaging 23.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.

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