Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich divulged Thursday that Aldridge told him he wanted to be traded during the offseason.
"I said, 'Whoa, nobody's ever said that to me before,'" Popovich said of his response, according to ESPN's Michael C. Wright. "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.'"
Aldridge had arguably the worst season of his career in 2016-17, averaging 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 47.7 percent from the field. Popovich has since said publicly that some of Aldridge's struggles were due to "over-coaching." The player admitted he was unhappy in a previously reported offseason conversation with Popovich, saying, "I kind of just spilled my heart about how I felt about how things were."
His coach then made it clear that Aldridge wasn't going anywhere.
"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,'" Popovich 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."
In October, Aldridge and the Spurs agreed to a three-year, $72-million extension. It's paid off for San Antonio, as Aldridge is having his best season in his three years with the Spurs, averaging 22.6 points and 8.7 rebounds.
The Spurs are 28-14 entering play Thursday, good for third in the Western Conference despite missing Leonard for the majority of the season.