Gregg Popovich confirmed LaMarcus Aldridge asked to be traded by the San Antonio Spurs last offseason.
While the Spurs shopped Aldridge, he ultimately signed an extension worth $72 million over three years.
Popovich and Aldridge had a candid conversation that led to Aldridge's request and a better understanding of the situation.
"When he said, 'I want to be traded,'" said Popovich when asked what helped bring about Aldridge's resurgent 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.'"
During training camp, Aldridge told ESPN that in a meeting over the summer with Popovich he "just spilled my heart about how I felt about how things were, and how things had been going."
Popovich tried find some levity during the meeting.
"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."
Popovich realized he also played a role some of Aldridge's struggles.
"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."