Kevin Durant Failed Trade Request Sparks San Antonio Spurs, LaMarcus Aldridge Memories
The NBA was fixated for much of the offseason on Kevin Durant’s request to be traded from the Brooklyn Nets. Many potential transactions were put on hold as teams waited to see how the superstar’s availability would impact the market.
Durant ultimately came with too great of an asking price to be traded from the Nets. Both he and the organization met for a second team and recommitted to one another ahead of the 2022-23 season after determining it was mutually beneficial to do so.
It’s not uncommon for a star to request a trade and not receive the desired change of scenery. Among the many examples is LaMarcus Aldridge requesting a trade from the San Antonio Spurs in 2017 before he experienced a strong campaign.
Aldridge averaged an impressive 23.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists while shooting 51.0 percent from the floor in 2017-18 — earning him the first of his final two All-Star nods. The strong bounce-back in production occurred after Aldridge was limited to averages of 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds the season prior.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked what caused the resurgence, which was released months later as being a trade request: “When he said, ‘I want to be traded.'”
“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.'”
Aldridge explained the situation as being a heart-to-heart conversation about his situation with the Spurs during the offseason. As explained to ESPN, he “just spilled my heart about how I felt about how things were, and how things had been going.”
The trade request ultimately didn’t lead to Aldridge being moved. Instead, the two shared laughs with Popovich getting “very candid” about how the situation would play out. Aldridge ultimately remained in San Antonio until reaching a buyout agreement midway through the 2020-21 season.
“I was very candid with him,” Popovich said. “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.”
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.