LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the San Antonio Spurs' lineup on Wednesday, but not as part of the starting five but off the bench. This caught fans by surprise since Aldridge had always been part of Gregg Popovich's starting unit since coming to San Antonio.
After the game, the legendary head coach remained mum on the big man's future.
Per Tom Orsborn of San Antonio Express-News, Popovich praised Aldridge for giving it his all in his first game back after missing six games with a sore right hip.
“As you can imagine, he wasn’t the normal LA after sitting out so long. But he gave it a hell of an effort and did a good job overall,” the Spurs' longtime coach shared.
Their 102-99 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder marks the first time since LaMarcus Aldridge's rookie season that he wasn't part of the starting lineup. This was way back in the 2006-07 season when Aldridge was part of the Portland Trail Blazers.
Whether or not Spurs fans will see the big man back in the starting lineup is still a matter of wait-and-see. Gregg Popovich still wants to observe how Aldridge will fare in the next games.
Pop noncommittal when asked about Aldridge's role moving forward. He said tonight LA "had to test it all out, see how he felt, get his minutes…"
— Tom Orsborn (@tom_orsborn) February 25, 2021
Before the game, Popovich noted that he won't place the big man in a minutes restriction. Aldridge went on to play 26 minutes, right at his average of 26.7 minutes per game this season.
“Not in a physical sense because of injury or anything like that,” Popovich added. “We will see what kind of shape he is in. He hasn’t played in a while, so we will find that out as the game goes.”
The Spurs will have a few days off before facing the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday.