While the San Antonio Spurs have been the benchmark of a successful franchise for years now, frequent NBA trade rumors had popped up regarding one of their stars. On Friday, Spurs’ head coach Greg Popovich revealed that in fact, those rumors were correct and it actually surprised him when he heard it straight from the player himself. However, that player is still with the team and is enjoying a “resurgence.” Here are the latest details on which of San Antonio’s top stars was nearly on the trading block but has turned things around this season.
Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Jeff Green, and Kawhi Leonard have all recently been sidelined due to various issues. With San Antonio having struggles due to injuries this season, the tried and true formula of Greg Popovich’s coaching system has always served the team and its players well as they seem to contend each season. However, Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge had asked to be traded, as he felt he wasn’t giving a successful contribution to that particular system. With the absence of Kawhi Leonard during a major playoff series, that became blatantly obvious, and Aldridge felt it was time for a chance, which shocked his head coach.
LaMarcus Aldridge's offseason trade request was a first for Pop. pic.twitter.com/Y4gxXMUE5K— ESPN (@espn) January 12, 2018
A report on Friday from ESPN’s Michael C. Wright notes that Popovich said Aldrige had requested a trade this past summer.
“It’s as simple as that. “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.’”
In the current season, San Antonio has found Aldridge to be their top star due to Kawhi Leonard’s early absence. Aldridge currently leads in scoring (22.6 per game), rebounds (8.6 per game), and blocks (1.1 per game). The Spurs are 28-15 and still sitting in third place overall in what is a competitive Western Conference.
While Aldridge can be thanked for that, one has to wonder if Leonard’s return will disrupt things. He was sidelined early in the season as he continued recovering from the injury that took him out during the playoffs. More recently, he was out due to a shoulder issue, which has him listed as “day-to-day.” The Spurs have been cautious as to not have Leonard become sidelined for the rest of the season.
The latest performance this season by LaMarcus Aldridge is certainly a resurgence for his All-Star career, putting him amongst contenders for this year’s game. The multiple-time All-Star currently ranks in the top four in the NBA amongst qualified power forwards for scoring and rebounding, with a top 10 listing for his blocks per game stat. Whether he’s chosen for the big game in 2018 probably won’t be the biggest deal to Aldridge, although it looks well deserved at this point.
More importantly, the San Antonio Spurs are still managing to do what they’ve done for years by hanging around as potential contenders in the West. With LaMarcus Aldridge now on track and performing this well under Greg Popovich’s system, they’re likely to be among the toughest outs for the Houston Rockets or Golden State Warriors come the postseason.