The San Antonio Spurs have struggled this season compared to years past. With the team continuing to grow older, it might be time for the Spurs organization to consider some trades to shake things up.
Additionally, Kawhi Leonard has yet to transform into a consistent star. Although injuries may have hindered his development this year, as it stands currently, it is tough to envision Leonard becoming a first option on a championship contender.
Leonard is just one of the issues on this roster when looking at the future, however. San Antonio will also have to deal with some of their key role players’ contracts expiring following this season, the most notable being Danny Green, Cory Joseph, and the aforementioned Leonard.
With those points noted, we take a look at five trades the San Antonio Spurs could make to help return the team to contender status right now, secure the future, and take care of some of the issues stated above.
Next: San Antonio Spurs Get McLemore
San Antonio Spurs Get McLemore
Once you start using ESPN’s Trade Machine with the Spurs, you will quickly realize San Antonio is one of the toughest teams to make realistic trades with given their current way of structuring contracts (signing players for deals that are not at market value).
The first deal we will look at is between the San Antonio Spurs and the Sacramento Kings. In the proposed deal, the Spurs receive Ben McLemore and Derrick Williams while the Kings get Danny Green, Cory Joseph, and Jeff Ayres.
Although some San Antonio fans may think it is outlandish for the Spurs to trade both Green and Joseph, especially considering the great seasons both players are having, a little under the hood analysis shows this deal might actually be in the Spurs favor, even though both fans and ESPN’s Trade Machine think otherwise.
Ayres, Green, and Joseph all have expiring contracts. While Ayres most likely won’t be retained, if Green and Joseph are still on San Antonio’s roster at year’s end they will probably be re-signed.
However, as stated in the introduction, the Spurs will need better players around Kawhi Leonard when Duncan and Ginobili retire. This trade is a perfect start for that.
The Sacramento Kings are currently struggling following a decent 11-13 start under former head coach Mike Malone. Since Malone’s firing the Kings have gone 3-7.
While it’s only 10 games into the coaching change and certainly not time to hit the panic button, if things don’t improve for Sacramento soon, the Kings could be looking to shake things up.
This deal here essentially provides stability for a young Kings team with a proven player in Green and youth for the Spurs in McLemore and Williams.
While neither McLemore or Williams are as capable players as Green, putting them in San Antonio’s system could tilt this trade in favor of the Spurs.
McLemore and Williams also have higher ceiling’s than Green. Both are former lottery picks under 24.
Derrick Williams will probably need the most selling as many consider him to be a bust in his career so far. That’s because Williams has not been utilized correctly!
The former number two overall pick is not a small forward and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. He played as a power forward in college and that’s exactly the position he should play in the NBA.
Rather than seeing Williams as a Michael Beasley, he should be seen as a Paul Millsap. Williams has an athletic advantage at the four, and if he can add a few pounds, could turn into a nice undersized, Paul Millsap-like forward.
For the Spurs, moving Joseph will also help clear up any issues that could arise relating to playing time between Mills and Joseph. San Antonio also gets an open roster spot which could become useful down the stretch.
Next: Spurs Deal with Struggling Knicks
Spurs Deal with Struggling Knicks
While it seems I don’t really like Danny Green I want to make it clear that’s not the case. It’s just that shooting guard is a position that the Spurs need to improve in the future. There is also an abundance of good two-guards in the league, making a deal for a player of this position to be feasible.
This deal is similar to the Sacramento Kings-San Antonio Spurs trade in that it allows the Spurs to pick up a potential future star.
Tim Hardaway Jr. has shown flashes of star potential this season with five 20-plus point games. While five games is not usually a head turner, when you consider he’s been playing with Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, two guys who take a lot of shots, that number becomes slightly more impressive.
Hardaway Jr. has been picking up a lot of minutes for the Knicks recently and, while his shooting isn’t there yet (38.7% from the field), he has responded well averaging 13.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in the month of December.
Although shooting might be the biggest concern here, Hardaway Jr. has proved to be a capable three-point threat, 35.3% career, and a good free throw shooter, 82.5% career. A little work with the Spurs staff and Hardaway Jr. could fix his shooting woes, just ask Patty Mills and Danny Green.
Cole Aldrich is also a nice pickup for San Antonio. The former Kansas big man has been averaging 5.8 points and 4.8 rebounds this season. He could be a nice upgrade over Jeff Ayres.
This deal also makes sense for the Knicks. New York would get a no non-sense player in Danny Green and essentially an expiring contract in Ayres.
If for some reason things don’t work out between Green and the Knicks, it does not become an issue for New York as the sharpshooter also becomes a free agent at season’s end.
Next: ESPN's Trade Machine Finally Likes a San Antonio Spurs Trade
ESPN’s Trade Machine Finally Likes a San Antonio Spurs Trade
I’m as shocked as you are, ESPN’s Trade Machine finally thinks a trade could help the Spurs. Maybe it’s because I have tried about a 100 different trade scenarios and, if that’s what it is, I’ll take it!
The Jazz once again have a logjam in the frontcourt (see the Carlos Boozer, Memhet Okur, Paul Millsap, and Matt Harpring conundrum). This time it’s Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert who are competing for two starting spots.
With Utah’s young players starting to look for their second NBA contract, the Jazz could be in financial trouble a couple of years down the road.
Rudy Gobert looks ready to explode for the Jazz and with Enes Kanter in an expiring contract year, Kanter suddenly finds himself expandable.
Fortunately for Utah, San Antonio would be more than willing to take on the talented Kanter’s contract, especially with Duncan set to retire soon.
Bringing in Kanter fills the Spurs sore need of a young interior presence. His addition would also make for a scary second team frontcourt for San Antonio, one which would include either Tiago Splitter, Boris Diaw, or Aron Baynes.
Rodney Hood is also a great pickup for the Spurs. Think of the 2014 first round pick as a lesser version of Danny Green. I have no doubt that with some time with San Antonio’s staff, Hood could develop into a nearly identical player as Green.
This deal also does wonders for Utah other than saving them from financial peril. The Jazz also acquire Danny Green, a guy who could be a nice veteran role player for a young team. Green could provide some nice stability when this team finally develops into the playoff contender it figures to be.
Next: Spurs Try a Three Team Deal
Spurs Try a Three Team Deal
Time to get a bit more creative, starting with this three team deal. In this trade, the San Antonio Spurs acquire Ersan Ilyasova (Bucks) and Kendall Marshall (Bucks), the Milwaukee Bucks receive Cory Joseph (Spurs) and Tyler Hansbrough (Raptors), while the Toronto Raptors receive Danny Green (Spurs) and Austin Daye (Spurs).
There’s a lot going on here so let’s start by breaking down the benefits for the Spurs. In this deal San Antonio moves a scoring point guard, Joseph, for a passing point guard Marshall.
This offers a great dynamic for the Spurs because now instead of having two score first point guards in Mills and Joseph, you have one scoring, Mills, and one passing, Marshall. This also means San Antonio’s two point guards can play on the floor at the same time because their play style’s are complementary rather than competing.
Ilyasova, who seems to be slowly falling out of Milwaukee’s future plans, is also a great pickup for the Spurs. At his best, the Turkish forward provides great rebounding and shooting. His best numbers were in 2011-2012 at 13.0 points and 8.8 rebounds in about 27 minutes and I believe in the right system, he could go back to those numbers.
Milwaukee also scores here, contrary to ESPN, by picking up two expiring contracts and letting go of Ilyasova’s big $8 million dollar per season deal.
Joseph and Hansbrough should also fit into the Bucks system well. Hansbrough, though seldom used in Toronto, has shown in the past that he can be a great scrapper. Joseph also provides a great scoring punch for Milwaukee off the bench.
For Toronto, this deal is a no-brainer. The Raptors have not used Hansbrough that much and are in desperate need of an extra perimeter defender.
Since DeMar DeRozan‘s injury, the former East-leading Raptors have gone 11-7. That’s not a bad record but when you consider the team was 13-3 with him, it starts to make sense why Toronto should be in the market for a perimeter defender.
Picking up Danny Green would be the ultimate prize for Toronto as he specializes in perimeter defense.
If you were looking for a trade involving a potential star, the wait is over in our final trade of the day. The San Antonio Spurs get Eric Gordon (Pelicans) and Austin Rivers (Pelicans), the Boston Celtics get Ryan Anderson (Pelicans) and Danny Green (Spurs), and the New Orleans Pelicans get Gerald Wallace (Celtics), Jeff Green (Celtics), and Tiago Splitter (Spurs) in a trade that’s sure to shake up the NBA landscape.
We have saved the best for last in this deal that provides each party with exactly what they need, a fresh start.
The Spurs score big here acquiring Eric Gordon. Although Gordon has struggled with injuries since his trade to New Orleans, when healthy, he can be one of the more prolific scoring two guards in the game.
It’s a huge gamble for San Antonio, but if it pays off, the Spurs could be looking at the best two-three combo for years to come in Eric Gordon and Kawhi Leonard.
San Antonio also picks up Austin Rivers in this deal, which could end up being a steal down the road. Although he has struggled in his first two-and-a-half years, I am a firm believer that all Rivers needs is a fresh start.
The Spurs provide exactly that opportunity, and a chance to become a starting point guard down the line. Rivers has only shot 39% in his career, but, if there’s anything San Antonio’s really good at, it’s turning struggle-rs into stars.
The Celtics also score here by ridding themselves of Gerald Wallace’s deal. Wallace has sparsely played for Boston and sending his deal away will offer Danny Ainge some great financial flexibility during the offseason. The main play for the Celtics here is cutting costs and they do exactly that, also picking up Green’s expiring deal.
The Pelicans might be the biggest winners of this deal, especially if Splitter and Wallace can return to their forms from a season or two ago.
Wallace and Splitter will allow New Orleans to possibly become the league’s best defensive team while Green allows Tyreke Evans to move to the two, making for a tall starting lineup.
The Pelicans also rid themselves of Gordon and Rivers, two players who clearly have not panned out for New Orleans.