When things were going badly between LaMarcus Aldridge and the Spurs during the 2016-17 season, the star forward had told coach Gregg Popovich he wanted to be traded.
His desire to change teams was so strong that he asked former teammate Damian Lillard if he could talk to Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey about bringing him back to Portland, according to a report from Bleacher Report published Thursday.
Aldridge was said to have left the Blazers on bad terms when he signed with the Spurs in 2015, though he has remarked in recent interviews that his relationship with Lillard has improved. Aldridge is coming off his best season with the Spurs, in which he averaged 23.1 points and 8.5 rebounds, after meeting with Popovich several times last summer to iron out their differences.
— The Charlotte Hornets hired longtime San Antonio Spurs assistant James Borrego as head coach on Thursday.
The sides agreed to a three-year deal with a team option in the fourth year, according to multiple reports.
Borrego, 40, spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs and had a previous stint (2003-10) in the same role under Gregg Popovich. Borrego becomes the 11th head coach in franchise history and is the first Latino coach in league history.
“We are thrilled to have James join our franchise,” Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of experience and a strong track record of player development from his time as a coach in San Antonio, New Orleans and Orlando. ... James is considered one of the NBA’s most well-regarded assistant coaches and it’s great to have him as part of our team.”
—Neither team with homecourt advantage in the NBA conference finals is in the favorite’s position to reach the NBA Finals.
At least that’s the view of the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas. The entity has the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on a collision course to meet in the finals for the fourth straight season. The second-seeded Warriors opened as -185 favorites to beat the top-seeded Houston Rockets in the Western Conference finals, while the fourth-seeded Cavaliers were installed as hefty -275 favorites against the top-seeded Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.
Houston won two of three regular-season meetings with Golden State and is a slight favorite to win Monday’s Game 1. Cleveland took two of three from Boston, but Sunday’s opener is rated as even per the Westgate betting line.
—Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki shed the walking boot on his left ankle and said he isn’t ready to declare that the 2018-19 NBA season will be the last of his career.
Nowitzki, who turns 40 next month, missed the final four games of the regular season after undergoing a surgical debridement of the ankle in early March. He said he is progressing on schedule and is not rushing his rehab, which could take much of the summer.
The 20-year-veteran also said he is planning on suiting up next season while not ruling out playing beyond that, depending on how he feels on a year-to-year basis. If Nowitzki does keep playing, he will become the first person to suit up in more than 20 NBA seasons with the same team, breaking the record he currently shares with Kobe Bryant.
—Oklahoma City Thunder forward Nick Collison announced his retirement after 15 seasons in the NBA.
“My goal was always to make a career out of basketball, and I was blessed to be in the NBA for 15 seasons,” Collison said in a team release. “As my time as a basketball player comes to an end, I’m so grateful for my family, friends, teammates, coaches, fans, my hometown, Kansas University, the Thunder organization and everyone else who has helped me along the way. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. It has been an incredible journey that I’m proud of, and it would not have been possible to do it on my own.”
Collison, 37, spent his entire career as a member of the Thunder organization after he was selected 12th overall out of Kansas in the 2003 draft by the then-Seattle Supersonics. His decorated career with the Jayhawks included being named national college player of year in 2003.
—Sacramento Kings center Kosta Koufos will exercise his $8.7 million player option for the 2018-19 season, according to a report from ESPN.
Koufos joined the Kings on a four-year, $33 million deal in 2015. The 29-year-old averaged 6.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 71 games (12 starts) last season.
Koufos has career averages of 5.8 points and 5.1 rebounds in 10 NBA seasons played with the Kings, Memphis Grizzlies (2013-15), Denver Nuggets (2011-13), Minnesota Timberwolves (2010-11) and Utah Jazz (2008-09). He was the No. 23 pick in the 2008 draft by the Jazz.
—Field Level Media