If the San Antonio Spurs attempt to trade for Willy Hernangomez, there’s positives and negatives that accompany it.
According to The Athletic (h/t Real GM), the San Antonio Spurs expressed interest in New York Knicks center Willy Hernangomez, who proceeded to request a trade from the team. So, if San Antonio pursues something at the Feb. 8 NBA Trade Deadline, there’s a chance something can be pulled off.
Of course, with any transaction, there’s upside and consequences. A roster move may make sense on one front, while leaving something to be desired on another. Whether it’s a contract or a team fit, it can make or break the logic of the transaction.
If the Spurs pursue and trade for Hernangomez, there are points to take into account. Let’s take a look at these potential pros and cons of a deadline-day move for the 23 year old:
Pro: The big-man depth this team needs
When the Spurs signed Joffrey Lauvergne as their only piece of big-man depth, it raised a few eyebrows. Sure, Rudy Gay can act as a stretch four, but if LaMarcus Aldridge or Pau Gasol suffered an injury, there was only one true big body to replace them.
If San Antonio acquires Hernangomez, it could give them two centers to back up Aldridge and Gasol, pending Lauvergne does not head to New York in the same transaction. There are not many trade assets in the Alamo City as it is, so someone like the French big man may be necessary for shedding the appropriate salary to make this deal.
Hernangomez wants a consistent role and mins.
The Spurs were rumored to have interest in him, but those two things are not something Pop provides to just anyone.
— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) February 6, 2018
Either way, the Spanish big man is worth the gamble to get a backup interior presence; one that has the size (6-foot-11) and the sample size from his rookie season to succeed.
Next: Who can the Spurs trade?
Con: Who can the Spurs trade?
As previously alluded to, the San Antonio Spurs may have to deal Joffrey Lauvergne in a potential transaction for Willy Hernangomez. If the Knicks want another player or a different one from the roster, that’s where things get complicated.
Would New York want a center in return for another one? It already has Enes Kanter, Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle O’Quinn, all capable of playing this role (we won’t count Joakim Noah). That would put Lauvergne at the end of the bench, likely struggling for playing time as much as Hernangomez was.
Let’s say Lauvergne does go back the other way, but the Knicks want more. Would Brandon Paul be enough to swing a move? He’s another player that’s sat on the bench for most of the 2017-18 season, along with a contract that extends into 2018-19.
Draft picks can be added to the equation, too. Although, with inexpensive, controllable deals becoming valued more than ever in this expanding-cap era, will the Spurs be inclined to move a first-round pick?
There’s not a clear-cut deal that stands out here or one that may tempt the Knicks enough. This would be an issue, unless, of course, the organization has interest in Lauvergne or Paul for the next one and a half seasons.
Next: Inexpensive contract
Pro: Inexpensive contract
An easy pro for a potential Willy Hernangomez trade, his contract runs through the 2019-20 season and never exceeds $1.7 million. That’s a bargain.
The San Antonio Spurs do not have much cap space, so any deal likely needs to have matching salaries. Hernangomez’s $1.45 million for 2017-18 would not be an issue for them, let alone almost any NBA team.
Joffrey Lauvergne, Derrick White, Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes and Brandon Paul all have salaries in the ballpark of $1.3 million to 1.5 (let’s leave Dejounte Murray out of this equation). It’s close enough to where any of them can be matched to the Knicks’ third-string center’s contract and deemed acceptable. However, given the roles Bertans and Forbes have played on this year’s squad, it would not be a surprise to see San Antonio keep both.
That leaves Lauvergne, Paul and White. As noted, the former two may be the most expendable but potentially not much value to accompany them. The Spurs selected White in June and control his contract for three more seasons, so it would be a surprise to see them give up on that so fast, unless there’s a high comfort level in the current point guard situation.
Whichever player the Spurs trade from their roster for Hernangomez, the salaries will match and make this process less complicated, along with wrapping up the backup center role for years to come.
Next: The Spurs never make deadline-day deals
Con: The rare deadline-day trade
A con of a potential Willy Hernangomez deal isn’t him but the San Antonio Spurs organization’s history at the trade deadline. That’s if their handful of deals for the past three decades count toward anything.
Via Real GM, here’s San Antonio’s brief history on deadline day:
- 1989-90: The Spurs acquired Uwe Blab from the Golden State Warriors for Chris Welp.
- 2004-05: The Spurs acquired Nazr Mohammed, Jamison Brewer and a player exception from the New York Knicks for Malik Rose, a conditional 2004 first-round pick (via Suns) and a conditional 2006 first-round pick (via Spurs).
- 2009-10: The Spurs acquired a conditional 2016 second-round pick (via Hornets) and a player exception from the Charlotte Hornets for Theo Ratliff.
- 2011-12: The Spurs acquired Stephen Jackson and a player exception from the Golden State Warriors for TJ Ford, Richard Jefferson and a conditional 2012 first-round pick (via Spurs).
- 2013-14: The Spurs acquired Austin Daye, cash and a player exception from the Toronto Raptors for Nando De Colo.
Four of the five trades happened this millennium, with the first and second deal being fifteen years apart. That’s almost unforeseen in the NBA, with the amount of activity that happens at the trade deadline.
The Stephen Jackson and Nazr Mohammed trades were the closest things to “impact moves” for the Silver and Black. Neither were superstars, though and only filled in as role players. If that’s factored in, then this organization has been nonexistent on the final trading day of the season.
This lack of a history puts the Spurs’ odds of making a deal on Thursday low. That goes for Hernangomez and any name the team gets linked to.