Aldridge and Lillard played alongside each other in Portland for three seasons from 2012-13 through 2014-15, and Aldridge mentioned the struggles he had communicating with Lillard when they were teammates to Michael Pina of Vice Sports:
“It’s always tough for me to find that balance where I want to tell [Damian] not to do this or this is better. But I don’t want him to feel like I’m trying to hold him back from being who he wants to be. I do regret not talking to him at times, but also I feel like he was trying to find himself.”
Aldridge signed a free-agent deal with the Spurs in 2015 and has spent the past three seasons in San Antonio.
In addition to reflecting on the past with Lillard and the Blazers, Aldridge revealed that he has a better relationship with Dame currently:
“I would say him and I have learned more about each other since I left that would’ve helped us when I was there, so I’ve learned from that and I’m trying to be better and not worry if I come off a certain way, because I feel like when people know who I am as a person, they know I have no ill will. I’m more reserved, so I didn’t want to come off as trying to stifle his shine. I just got back in the corner and let him do his thing … I feel like if him and I communicated as much then as we do now, then things would’ve been totally different.”
Portland reached the playoffs in each of the final two seasons Aldridge and Lillard played together, and it made it to the second round in 2013-14.
Both players were named All-Stars in those two seasons as well.
Aldridge initially struggled upon leaving Portland, as his stats dipped significantly. He even requested a trade prior to this season.
After ironing things out with head coach Gregg Popovich, however, Aldridge has rebounded significantly.
With Kawhi Leonard missing most of the season due to injury, Aldridge has returned to All-Star form and is averaging 22.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game for a Spurs team that is fifth in the Western Conference.
Lillard is having a great year as well with 26.8 points, 6.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds per contest, and he has pushed the Blazers into third in the Western Conference on the strength of an eight-game winning streak.
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