In an interesting piece at Grantland, Zach Lowe concocted 26 bold predictions for the upcoming 2012-13 NBA season.
The San Antonio Spurs, Lowe predicts, are in line to make at least one minor trade this season.
Here is an exceprt:
DeJuan Blair, Ed Davis, and someone from among Milwaukee’s front-line crew of youngsters should be movable in exchange for some minor savings or a future draft pick. The Spurs also have an abundance of backup guards, with Patty Mills, Gary Neal, Cory Joseph, and Nando De Colo all showing early flashes of minutes-worthy play. (Neal, of course, has been a mainstay of Gregg Popovich’s rotation for two seasons.) San Antonio is about $1 million under the tax line, so they don’t absolutely have to move any of these guys. But if they get something, even a second-rounder, it’s worth exploring.
Being about $1 million under the luxury tax, approximately $70.3 million this season, gives the Spurs a modicum of flexibility in the trade market. Plus, if a deal arises that simplifies the guard and froncourt rotations further — as it will be difficult, even for Gregg Popovich, to distribute minutes evenly throughout the season — it might be beneficial.
The punitive luxury tax, which will be instituted next season, also figures to make cost-effective talent, usually acquired from the draft, advantageous for small-market teams like the Spurs, who wish to cut payroll and simultaneously remain in championship contention.
This is why, for instance, finding cheap players off the scrap heap (Nando De Colo, Gary Neal) and in the mid-to-late first round (DeJuan Blair, Kawhi Leonard, Cory Joseph) is important; it allows a front office to plunge into the trade market sporadically. Of course, the organization isn’t one to radically alter the complexion of the team with a single trade — the deals for Boris Diaw and Stephen Jackson brought in two rotation players expected to fill in the gaps — so anything aside from a small package deal with Blair may be too much to ask.
But if it happens, don’t be too surprised.