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San Antonio Spurs: 3 potential reasons Kyrie Irving trade did not happen

By Rob Wolkenbrod
AUBURN HILLS, MI - DECEMBER 26: Kyrie Irving
AUBURN HILLS, MI - DECEMBER 26: Kyrie Irving
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San Antonio Spurs, CLEVELAND, OH – MARCH 31: Kyrie Irving
San Antonio Spurs, CLEVELAND, OH – MARCH 31: Kyrie Irving

The San Antonio Spurs didn’t acquire Kyrie Irving, so let’s look at why a deal never happened.

The San Antonio Spurs were linked to All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, until Tuesday night’s events transpired. The Boston Celtics acquired Irving from the Cleveland Cavaliers for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizic and the Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick.

It’s unknown if the Spurs were ever serious contenders for Irving, but obviously, their pursuit is over. They’ll move on with the roster that remained since the end of July.

Since a Spurs-Cavs deal never materialized, let’s look into why this may have been the case. Did San Antonio stand a chance?

SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 9: Kawhi Leonard
SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 9: Kawhi Leonard

3. Not in the Spurs’ DNA

For most of the Gregg Popovich era, the San Antonio Spurs built its team from the NBA Draft. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard and others built the foundation for the franchise’s stability, which contributed to five NBA championships.

Rarely do the Spurs make a blockbuster trade. The biggest one of note they made over the past handful of years came at the 2011 NBA Draft, as they traded George Hill for the drafts rights to Leonard and Davis Bertans.

A Kyrie Irving deal would have been on the Richter scale for the Spurs, as they never make trades for superstars. It’s not something they’ve done to build the team. Even free agency is a rare occasion for them, with LaMarcus Aldridge’s arrival in 2015 as one of the biggest offseason moves in franchise history.

So, the Spurs not pulling off a deal for Irving isn’t surprising. It’s not what this organization is known for and, for the foreseeable future, they’ll continue to build through the draft. The occasional free-agent move will happen, but rarely for a big name.

Next: Boston's trade package

2. Boston’s strong trade package

While the San Antonio Spurs’ trade offer for Kyrie Irving never came to fruition, it’s difficult to think it topped the Boston Celtics’. That’s unless the Spurs shockingly offered Kawhi Leonard.

Let’s start with Isaiah Thomas. He nearly averaged 30 points per game in the 2016-17 and became the face of the Celtics as they rose to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. However, Thomas suffered a hip injury that bothered him in the NBA playoffs, something Boston thought could be healed by rest and rehab.

Boston has believed rest + rehab would return Thomas' hip to a full recovery. Cavs plan to monitor closely, anxious to give him physical.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 23, 2017

The Washington product is also on an expiring deal. Despite that and the injury concern, he produced better than potential leading-piece LaMarcus Aldridge.

Jae Crowder has a cheap, controllable contract for the next three years. He’ll be a solid wing player next to LeBron James.

Ante Zizic is a young center who hasn’t debuted in the NBA. He was selected in the 2016 NBA Draft.

The Brooklyn Nets’ 2018 first-round pick is the wild card here. Either the Cavaliers use it — a potentially high pick in the draft — to get a top-tier player or use it on someone like Marvin Bagley or Michael Porter in June 2018.

For the Spurs, they could have offered pieces like Aldridge, Danny Green, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Kyle Anderson, and first-round picks. The issue is the long-term upside of any of those parts is questionable, especially the draft pick, which has been at or below No. 20 in every season of Gregg Popovich’s tenure.

To top what the Celtics gave for Irving seemed like an impossible task. They surrendered plenty for the All-Star guard, something the Spurs probably couldn’t match.

Next: Spurs' assets wouldn't work

OAKLAND, CA – MAY 14: LaMarcus Aldridge
OAKLAND, CA – MAY 14: LaMarcus Aldridge

1. Spurs’ assets wouldn’t work

As noted, the San Antonio Spurs’ offer was never revealed. More than likely, it won’t come to light. While the Boston Celtics’ package was arguably a strong one for Kyrie Irving, the Spurs matching it would have been tough.

LaMarcus Aldridge has one year left on his contract for $21 million, with a player option for $22 million. For a player who’s on the wrong side of 30 and in a decline of production, it’s not the most appealing piece, especially to headline a trade for one of the NBA’s top young stars.

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Danny Green could have been the second-best part to go to Cleveland. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA and just won an All-NBA Defensive Second Team award for the 2016-17 season. 3-point shooting is another strength of Green’s, too. However, 3-and-D can only go so far for a player’s value. That’s along with a one-year, $10 million salary, with a player option of the same price for 2018-19.

For the young pieces, it’s down to Derrick White, Dejounte Murray and Kyle Anderson. The former two, the point guards, may have been the most appealing of the three since they’re losing Irving. However, with minimal-to-no NBA experience, they’re all unknown parts and might not be enough for a contending team to gamble on.

Must Read: Top 25 players in Spurs history

Why do you think the San Antonio Spurs didn’t get Irving? Let us known in the comments below.

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