NBA

LaMarcus Aldridge admitted to being "unhappy" in San Antonio in talks with Gregg Popovich

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It's fair to say that LaMarcus Aldridge's first two years with the San Antonio Spurs haven't gone the way he envisioned.

After deciding to leave the Portland Trail Blazers as a free agent in 2015 where he was the number one scoring option, the big man has had to adjust to the Spurs' system and accept playing second fiddle to Kawhi Leonard.

In Portland, he was a walking double-double but his numbers have dropped slightly since arriving in Texas and averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds last year.

After Leonard suffered an ankle injury in the Western Conference Finals, head coach Gregg Popovich leaned heavily on Aldridge to provide the offensive spark against the Golden State Warriors but he failed to do so.

His poor showing in that series led to scathing criticism of the power forward and that was followed by revelations that the franchise attempted to trade him this summer.

With all of this in mind, the five-time All-Star decided that he needed to make his feelings clear about his role on the team and requested a clear-the-air meeting with Popovich during the offseason.

"It was me kind of being blunt about it, and being kind of forward," Aldridge recently told ESPN. "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's body language spoke volumes last season as he was a dejected figure on the floor at times and looked disengaged from his teammates on the offensive end.

Pop admitted that Aldridge's concerns were "all legitimate" and hopes their heart-to-heart will benefit both the player and the team in the upcoming campaign.

"This is a guy who played for nine years, I believe, before he came here and it takes time to get used to a program that is not just new," Popovich said. "But when you have nine years under your belt, doing something different, his concerns are totally legitimate.

"We have talked about what we can do to make him more comfortable, and to make our team better. But having said that, I think we are mostly talking about offence.

"Defence, 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."

With Kawhi ruled out for the entire pre-season and likely to miss the start of the new year, the Spurs will have an opportunity to use Aldridge more and look to make him a focal point in the hope that he recaptures his All-Star form.

Topics:
San Antonio Spurs
Southwest Division
Western Conference
NBA
Kawhi Leonard
LaMarcus Aldridge
Manu Ginobili

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