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LaMarcus Aldridge says coming off the bench has been “very difficult”

Brooklyn Nets v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 12: LaMarcus Aldridge #21 of the Brooklyn Nets reacts against the New Orleans Pelicans during a game at the Smoothie King Center on November 12, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

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LaMarcus Aldridge is a starter. From his sophomore NBA season until this one, Aldridge started 963 games and came off the bench in three. Whether in Portland, San Antonio, or Brooklyn, Aldridge was not just a starter, he was a star. A cornerstone of every team he has been on.

Until this season in Brooklyn, where he has come in off the bench in all 17 games he has played. Brian Lewis of the New York Post asked him how that was going and got an honest answer.

“It’s very difficult. You’ve been one type of player or a certain type of player your whole career. It’s definitely different coming off the bench and not playing much,” Aldridge said. “So it’s been difficult. … I’m still trying to figure it out and navigate it and find my spots. And I’m just trying to find my ways to try and help out...

“It’s an ongoing battle. It’s not, you fix it and it’s done. You still have moments where it’s still tough to not be out there at times, and it’s still tough to not start at times,” Aldridge said. “But I came back to win, and I wanted to be here and try to win it all. So, if that’s my role, it is what it is.”

Aldridge could be back in his familiar starter spot soon as Blake Griffin — the team’s starting center — battles through what coach Steve Nash called an early season “funk.” Against Cleveland Monday, with former Nets center Jarrett Allen dominating Griffin, Nash switched to starting Aldridge in the second half, which helped Brooklyn pick up the win. Nash said he would consider starting Aldridge against Boston on Wednesday night, but he wouldn’t make any pronouncements yet.

Aldridge is still third on the team in scoring, averaging 13.4 points a game, and he has been the guy Nash leaned on to close games.

The Nets have a few players sacrificing what they used to do — or touches they could get elsewhere — to be part of a champion. Griffin and Paul Millsap have accepted their roles, Patty Mills and Joe Harris could have gotten more significant roles elsewhere (Mills’ role expanded with Kyrie Irving away from the team because of his vaccination stance).

The Nets are 13-5 and sit atop the Eastern Conference, even if they didn’t get there in the style we expected. This is still a roster deep with talent and guys who want a ring. If the Nets are going to get that banner, Aldridge will have a big role. Whatever it is.