LaMarcus Aldridge asked former teammate Damian Lillard to intercede for him in a possible return to the Portland Trail Blazers, according to Ken Berger of Bleacher Report. Aldridge left Portland for the San Antonio Spurs in NBA Free Agency during the Summer of 2015. Issues with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio system may have prompted his overture.
The Bleacher Report article claims that an Aldridge-Blazers reunion was possible last season before Popovich put his star at ease:
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.”
This past January Popovich revealed Aldridge’s intent on being traded before he stepped in:
”He said, ‘I want to be traded,’ “ Popovich said. “And I said, ‘Whoa, nobody has ever said that to me before.’ He said, ‘I’m not enjoying this. I’m not confident. I’m not sure you want me here. I want to be traded.’ “
The demand led to some frank but fruitful conversations between the two that laid the foundation for the fine season Aldridge is enjoying.
”I was very candid with him,” Popovich said. “I told him I would be happy to trade him. You get me a talent like Kevin Durant and I will drive you to the airport. I will pack your bags and I will drive you there,’ and he laughed. And I said, ‘Short of that I am your best buddy, and you are here for another year and you ain’t going nowhere because for you talent-wise, we are not going to get what we want, so let’s figure this thing out. And we did.”