San Antonio Spurs: 5 potential trade chips for a Kyrie Irving deal

By Rob Wolkenbrod
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 21: Dejounte Murray
CLEVELAND, OH - JANUARY 21: Dejounte Murray
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SAN ANTONIO – APRIL 18: The logo of the San Antonio Spurs in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at AT
SAN ANTONIO – APRIL 18: The logo of the San Antonio Spurs in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at AT

If the San Antonio Spurs eye a trade for Kyrie Irving, what else could be part of a potential deal?

The San Antonio Spurs haven’t been involved in an offseason trade yet, despite the flurry of action over the past month. It saw teams acquire big-name players from other organizations, like Chris Paul and Paul George. Trades such as this will shape the Western Conference for the 2017-18 NBA season.

There may be another top player on the move, however. Kyrie Irving wants off the Cleveland Cavaliers and requested a deal for this to happen, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. It’s a trade that would shake up the Eastern Conference, as well as the West if he were to go across the United States.

It’s a possibility that Irving switches conferences, though, as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported. This comes with his interest in the Spurs as a “preferred destination.” That’s along with the New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Miami Heat.

Irving going to San Antonio would be a game changer for the organization. He has the ability to be the team’s best point guard since Tony Parker’s prime, which saw him win the NBA Finals MVP award in 2007. The scoring and ball distributing skills of Irving’s are top-notch, and rivals any of the top point guards in the West.

To get someone like this will take a haul, though. That may mean the Spurs sacrificing their best young talents to make this happen – multiple, if anything. If the team is willing to do this, they may have to consider parting with the following five pieces. Let’s see who they are:

Next: First-round pick

SAN ANTONIO – APRIL 18: The logo of the San Antonio Spurs in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at AT
SAN ANTONIO – APRIL 18: The logo of the San Antonio Spurs in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at AT

5. 2018 First-round pick

Arguably the least of the San Antonio Spurs’ concerns would be a future first-round pick, as in the 2018 selection. It’s due to the consistent success of the franchise for the past two decades.

The Spurs haven’t picked above No. 20 since the 1997 NBA Draft, when they selected Tim Duncan at No. 1 overall. That’s not counting Kawhi Leonard at No. 15, who the team traded up for in the 2011 NBA Draft.

The past two drafts saw the Spurs select at No. 29 overall. They picked Dejounte Murray and Derrick White in 2016 and 2017, respectively. While the book is not out on them, historically, players that are drafted lower haven’t had as much success as those who went higher in the draft. That’s not for every NBA selection show in the league’s history, however (look at the 2000 Draft).

There wouldn’t be much harm in the Spurs sending their 2018 pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers, unless all the big names get hurt next season and the team suddenly tanks. Stranger things have happened, but if Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Gay can stay healthy, along with Irving, they should be a top team in the NBA from the fall to the spring.

Next: Derrick White

San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio Spurs

4. Derrick White

In the 2017 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs selected Derrick White at No. 29 overall out of Colorado. So, he’s only been on the team for four weeks.

The Spurs got their first glimpse of White in the Utah and Vegas Summer Leagues, where he came off the bench to provide scoring production. It’s only a taste of the NBA for him, with more to come next fall.

However, since the Spurs haven’t seen White play a regular season game (or in the G-League), it’s worth wondering if that makes the team willing to move him in a blockbuster deal. He’s not established, while Kyrie Irving is, at the same position, so is this a no-brainer inclusion?

There’s the potential for the former Division-III prospect to be a quality contributor at the NBA level. He showed the ability to score in bunches and do a little bit of everything in college. It’s only potential, though, which is hardly a given for someone that never stepped on the AT&T Center court.

If the Irving deal happens, look for White to be part of the deal. It sheds part of the point guard rotation and allows the 23-year-old to pick up time in Cleveland, if the team plans to start him.

Next: Danny Green

SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 20: Danny Green
SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 20: Danny Green

3. Danny Green

Danny Green isn’t the young, attractive piece that would seemingly go to the Cavaliers in a trade. He shot below 40 percent in the past two seasons and fewer than 10 points per game, but provided strong defense on the perimeter.

There’s the financial part of a Kyrie Irving deal to look at, though. He’s owed $18.8 million in the 2017-18 season and $20 million in 2018-19. The former number will be the one to watch since it affects the upcoming season’s salary cap, as the Spurs’ cap space is limited from their current contracts are a factor. This includes Pau Gasol re-signing, Patty Mills’ deal, Manu Ginobili’s, and outside-the-organization acquisitions (Rudy Gay, Joffrey Lauvergne, Brandon Paul).

So, where does Green factor in? He’s owed $10 million in the 2017-18 season. His contract would offset over 50 percent of Irving’s money, making the talks easier for including younger pieces on smaller deals. This includes Derrick White and others not yet named.

If anything, Green may be the most likely part of a deal for the financial aspect, even before the younger assets. Along with him and White, who could be physical options to go to Cleveland in a deal?

Next: Kyle Anderson

HOUSTON, TX – MAY 11: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs talks with Kyle Anderson
HOUSTON, TX – MAY 11: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs talks with Kyle Anderson

2. Kyle Anderson

An intriguing option for a trade piece is Kyle Anderson, a three-year small forward of the San Antonio Spurs. He will enter the final year of his deal in the fall, before hitting restricted free agency in the summer of 2018.

Anderson went to the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Draft, getting selected at No. 30 overall. He never played a complete role in the starting lineup in the three seasons, averaging 14.3 minutes per game in 183 appearances (33 starts).

The case can be made for Anderson’s numbers not being higher, due to the talent that’s around him. Especially at the same position, with Kawhi Leonard the starting small forward and little to no chance of him relinquishing the top role at the three spot. Jonathon Simmons played more minutes than the UCLA product in 2017, too, but he’s off to the Orlando Magic.

By moving Anderson, it frees up more time for other wing options on the team, despite his unique 6-foot-9 frame that can play a variety of positions. It’s also one of the most established, young assets the Spurs have. So, look for him to possibly be part of a Kyrie Irving deal if it goes down.

Next: Dejounte Murray

CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 21: Dejounte Murray
CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 21: Dejounte Murray

1. Dejounte Murray

To get, you have to give. That would be the case with Dejounte Murray in a potential Kyrie Irving deal, despite the upside the former showed near the end of the 2017-18 season and the Summer League.

Murray only played in just under 40 NBA games last year, but received an uptick in time in the playoffs, due to Tony Parker’s torn quadriceps. There, the Washington product put up a double-double in one game and played steady defense at the one spot.

With the Spurs getting a franchise point guard in this potential Irving deal, it would impact Murray’s future playing time. It limits him from breaking through and receiving extra minutes, making him suspectable to a trade.

On the Cavaliers, Murray can work with the likes of LeBron James and Kevin Love. It will help him mature as a player and be helped significantly by one of the top athletes that make his teammates better.

Next: 5 early bold predictions for the 2017-18 season

Who could the Spurs move in a Irving deal? What’s your ideal trade scenario?

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