San Antonio is not Houston, but they sure had a problem.
Throughout NBA history, the Spurs have consistently displayed a level of greatness that few ever get to enjoy. That constant dominance could be due to the city's love for basketball, which is unrivaled in the sport of basketball. Or, it could be due to the stars, who frequently make the team their home. Or, it could be due to the coach, who's the master, the teacher, the mentor everyone wants to learn from.
No matter what (or who) you attribute the Spurs' long-tenured success to, one thing is for certain: pro-baskeball life doesn't get much better than San Antonio.
For LaMarcus Aldridge, however, he might dissagree with that remark.
After nine seasons with the Trailblazers, Aldridge hit the free-agent market in 2015, where he elected to take his talents to Texas, and join Kawhi Leonard in his quest to win a ring. His first season there was pretty productive, and all seemed well from the start.
But, as we'd come to find out, things turned ugly during the 2016-17 campaign.
The role he envisioned for himself in the Spurs' offense differed from what actually took placd on the court. He felt as if he wasn't being utilized the way he should. As bad as that sounds, things got even worse in the playoffs, when LaMarcus' production took a steep nose dive.
He averaged career lows in the playoffs, and was getting dominated by opposing bigs on a nightly basis. That was, in his mind, the final straw. The rumors about him being unhappy in San Antonio were true and, as he revealed to ESPN, it took a heart-to-heart with Gregg Popovich for things to finally start turning around:
"It was me kind of being blunt about it, and being kind of forward," Aldridge told ESPN during training camp. "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."
Popovich himself took some of the blame for Aldridge's struggles, saying he has to help the 6'11" big man get comfortable in the offense.
And while utilizing Aldridge more on the offensive end sounds great, it's a lot easier said than done.
"One of our things this year is if myself, Pau or if any big is running the floor and we duck in, it's just more emphasis on, 'OK, let's look at the post,' " Aldridge told ESPN. "I think last year, looking at the post wasn't really what we did. It was more, let's do something else. But this year, already, it's about, 'If he runs the floor and he's ducking in, give him the ball.' So it's just more of an emphasis on those types of things."
As the Spurs prepare for the upcoming seaoson, many are giving them a real chance to take home the trophy in June. Because, as history has shown us, it's never wise to count them out.
But if they want to have any hope of overcoming the odds this seaosn, they'll need thier star big-man to step up more than ever before.