The San Antonio Spurs have only made five moves at the NBA Trade Deadline, so let’s rank them all.
The San Antonio Spurs do not have an extensive history at the NBA Trade Deadline. Rarely do they make a transaction on this checkpoint day in the NBA season, often sticking with rosters that advanced to the playoffs and won one of five championships.
The 2018 NBA Trade Deadline will arrive on Thursday, Feb. 8 at 3:00 p.m. ET. Whether the Silver and Black make a deal or not remains to be seen, with the potential desire to do something to catch the Houston Rockets at No. 2 or move closer to the Golden State Warriors at No. 1 in the Western Conference.
Before this, let’s look at the past three decades of deadline-day moves which happened just five times. Which trade was the best of them?
5. Spurs acquire Uwe Blab from Warriors for Chris Welp
Yes, Uwe Blab and Chris Welp were actual names of NBA players. Both players happened to be German-born centers and over seven feet tall.
At the 1990 NBA Trade Deadline, the Spurs sent Welp to the Golden State Warriors for Blab. It was a straight-up exchange of backup centers that rarely saw the court for either team, with both having a strikingly similar final run in the NBA, coupled with being seven-foot centers from Germany.
After Welp went to Dallas and Blab to San Antonio, they played a combined 21 games for their respective teams; 14 for Welp and 7 for Blab. This was the last NBA stint for either player, as they never stepped onto the court after the 1989-90 season.
This trade had no impact on the Spurs and was a wash. It’s likely forgotten in franchise history, even though it’s one of just five deals to occur at the deadline.
Next: Spurs acquire Austin Daye
4. Spurs acquire Austin Daye from Raptors for Nando De Colo
It’s easy to say the San Antonio Spurs found success with international prospects in the NBA Draft. From Tim Duncan (U.S. Virgin Islands) to Tony Parker (France), Manu Ginobili (Argentina), Tiago Splitter (Brazil), Beno Udrih (Slovenia) and others, these players all played on top-tier Spurs teams that reached the playoffs and won championships.
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Not every draft pick will find success, however. Case in point: Nando De Colo. The Spurs selected De Colo in Round 2 of the 2009 NBA Draft, waited three years to get him on the roster and installed him as a backup point guard to Parker.
Well, just about a year and a half after this experiment, the Spurs traded De Colo. This was after appearing in just 26 games in the 2013-14 season. The organization dealt him to the Toronto Raptors for backup small forward Austin Daye.
Daye survived on San Antonio’s roster for parts of two seasons, playing a backup role to Kawhi Leonard. The journeyman small forward played a combined 40 games, averaging 4 points in 9.6 minutes per contest. So, it was not much of an impact, but more than De Colo’s in Toronto (3.1 points in 21 games and never played in the NBA again).
Like the Blab for Welp deal, this will not be remembered in the franchise’s history since neither player made a dent for their respective new teams. Will that change with the next deadline-day deal?
Next: Spurs trade Theo Ratliff
3. Spurs acquire conditional 2016 2nd round pick from Hornets for Theo Ratliff
Nope. Not quite.
The San Antonio Spurs made a minor transaction at the 2010 NBA Trade Deadline. They sent backup center Theo Ratliff to the Charlotte Hornets (then the Charlotte Bobcats) for a conditional 2016 second-round pick, meaning the Silver and Black only reaped the benefit of this deadline-day move 20 months ago.
From 1995-2011, Ratliff mostly played a backup center role, although he did start quite a few games for those Philadelphia 76ers teams from the early 2000’s, featuring Allen Iverson‘s one-man show. The backup role started in 2005-06 and continued toward the end of the journeyman’s career.
In the 2009-10 season, Ratliff joined the Spurs as a depth piece. He played just 21 games (3 starts) before a move to Charlotte, where he started 26 of 28 games, averaging 5.1 points and 4.2 rebounds. This franchise got their money’s worth out of the then 36-year-old big man, with a draft pick that would not be lost for six years.
As for that pick, the Spurs never saw it, meaning they dealt Ratliff for nothing. Six years later, though, and for a backup center at the end of his career, does that even matter? If anything, it cleared a roster spot in 2010 and opened more time for DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner off the bench; that’s a greater impact than whatever Uwe Blab and Austin Daye did.
Next: Spurs acquire Stephen Jackson
2. Spurs acquire Stephen Jackson from Warriors for TJ Ford, Richard Jefferson and a conditional 2012 1st round pick
Stephen Jackson was the highest-profile player the San Antonio Spurs acquired at the NBA Trade Deadline. There’s no question about it. However, it does not mean it’s the best move the team made on the league’s final day of trades.
This became Jackson’s second stint with the Spurs, after playing with them from 2001-03, winning the 2003 championship. It was a return nine years in the making, but near the end of his NBA career. That became apparent with a shooting percentage that barely topped 40, while averaging 8.9 points in 21 games during the 2011-12 season. Jackson had a chance at the 2013 NBA Championship, however, but San Antonio came up one Ray Allen 3-pointer short.
To get the 14-year pro, the Spurs traded Richard Jefferson, a player that never fit in the offense and regressed upon arrival in the points per game department, despite shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range. He never played like the Jefferson of the New Jersey Nets or Milwaukee Bucks, so the team deemed him expendable and he went to Golden State, playing the next season and a half and just missing out on its championship era. There, the 2001 NBA Draft pick became a role player and started just four games before a departure to Utah.
TJ Ford’s career was finished when this deal happened, as he suffered a back injury just days before (Ford had a history of back problems). The Warriors released him and he never played again.
As for the pick, it became center Festus Ezeli, who may have been the best piece to go to San Antonio in this deal. He was part of the 2015 championship team.
This trade was not perfect for the Spurs, but it gave them a role player to propel their title hopes. It was better than most of their trade-deadline moves, that’s for sure.
Next: Spurs acquire Nazr Mohammed
1. Spurs acquire Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer from Knicks for Malik Rose, conditional 2005 1st round pick (Suns) and conditional 2006 1st round pick (Spurs)
Before the San Antonio Spurs captured the 2005 championship, they pulled off a deadline-day deal with the New York Knicks. This brought starting center Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer to San Antonio for long-time Spurs Malik Rose and two first-round picks.
Mohammed was a starter for most of his career, but moved into a backup role on the title-winning team. His rim-protector presence gave the Spurs an option off the bench, along with an occasional starter when needed (during the 2005 playoffs). This was the case in the 2005-06 season, too, when the Spurs utilized the 14-year pro as a starter 30 times.
As for Brewer, he never played a minute for the Spurs and did not step onto an NBA court again after the trade.
Rose played with the Spurs from 1997 to the middle of the 2005 season, winning three championships. So his departure was one of the first major changes from these title-winning teams. He went on to play parts of five seasons in the Big Apple.
Regarding the draft picks, the 2005 pick turned into the No. 30 overall pick, David Lee, who had a successful 12-year career in the NBA. This included playing his final season for the Spurs. The 2006 pick became the No. 29 overall selection, Mardy Collins, who played parts of four seasons and last appeared on the court in 2010.
Despite one of the picks becoming Lee, the Spurs still added a championship piece to the puzzle. It’s difficult to argue with that, especially with the surrounding history of trades at the deadline, making this the No. 1 deadline-day move.