Cory Joseph has been off to a great start this season, picking up additional playing time while Patty Mills recovers from shoulder surgery. During the Spurs first seven games, the point guard has been averaging 8.0 points, 1.6 assists, and 1.9 rebounds. He is also posting an impressive 17.8 player efficiency rating during this stretch.
In his fourth NBA season, Cory Joseph seems to be finally finding his calling as a high scoring guard off the bench.
While Joseph has played well for the Spurs to begin the season, he finds himself in a precarious situation. The former University of Texas star has his rookie contract expire following this season and it is unclear what type of role he play once Patty Mills, the Spurs second string point guard, returns to the court.
This uncertainty could entail Cory Joseph suffering a similar fate to former Spurs guard George Hill.
Now, before this point receives its fair share of criticism, lets take a look at some reasons as to why this could happen.
The San Antonio Spurs Don’t Strike Big in Free Agency
The Spurs just don’t strike big in free agency. It has never been their thing and it never will be.
With that said, that means the only way San Antonio can expect to improve is through trade or the NBA Draft.
The Spurs currently own both their picks in the 2015 draft and are expected to pick in the bottom part of the draft, assuming San Antonio has another San Antonio like season with many wins.
This year’s draft provides some intriguing prospects and, with Spurs stars Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili expected to retire soon, could yield some replacements for the future Hall-of-Famers.
But, with the Spurs, expected to pick at the bottom of the draft, it’s likely they won’t be able to choose a strong impact player for the coming seasons, someone who could potentially develop into a superstar.
This means San Antonio’s best bet is to trade into the lottery. With so many talented players on the Spurs roster and even more overseas as draft-and-stash prospects, San Antonio could easily facilitate a deal with a lottery bound team.
It’s certain that Duncan and Ginobili will retire soon, and, when they do, the Spurs must have adequate replacements in place if they are to continue their winning ways. Those replacements are unlikely to come via free agency making the draft and trades the only logical solution to replenish the talent.
Cory Joseph’s Stock is High, Much Like George Hill’s Was When He Was Traded
Cory Joseph has been on a tear his season. He is rolling along very similarly to how George Hill was before he was moved. In fact, the two actually posted identical per 36 numbers, Hill’s in his final Spurs season and Joseph in what could be his final Spurs season.
The only real difference in these numbers are the field goal and three-point percentages. While Cory Joseph’s field goal percentage will most likely drop, we can probably say that it is true that George Hill is a better three-point shooter than Joseph even though Joseph’s percentage from deep will likely rise through the season.
Basically what this tells us is Joseph is hot, which means his stock is hot as well.
The Spurs will still need Joseph until January when Patty Mills makes his return, but, if Joseph can keep up his hot play, he will become expandable come January.
The 6-foot-3 point guard will be even more expandable come January because of the Duncan and Ginobili issues mentioned above. The Spurs need to replace those two and trading Joseph for talent could be their best bet.
This article is not to say Cory Joseph will be traded or that the Spurs should trade him. Rather, it serves to say that the Spurs could trade Joseph in order to replace the potential talent loss with the upcoming retirements of Duncan and Ginobili.
Joseph is in his final year of his contract with the Spurs and the former first-round pick will become a restricted free agent this summer.
This provides a great opportunity for the Spurs to send over his rights to a team with backup point guard needs.
The point guard is one of the most important roles in the NBA and teams need good point guard depth if they expect to be successful in the association.
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Joseph could be on the move as a result. The point guard is a premium position and Cory Joseph’s stock is hot right now.
As long as Joseph keeps up his stellar play into January, he will become expandable much like George Hill was following the 2010-2011 season.
If the right deal comes along, expect the Spurs to pounce on it, especially if the deal is centered around Joseph.
Things should get interesting come the NBA trade deadline for San Antonio.
What do you think about Cory Joseph’s situation with the Spurs? Should San Antonio consider moving him around the trade deadline? Let us know in the comments!