As the 2018 Trade Deadline approaches, the San Antonio Spurs have the opportunity to make or break their season. In spite of their third seed stature, the gap between San Antonio and the league’s elite has grown considerably large.
The right move could propel the San Antonio Spurs back into contention with Golden State and Houston in the postseason, but the wrong move could throw the team into turmoil. Historically, the Spurs have stayed quiet around the trade deadline, but now is as good of a time as ever to get on the phone and make some moves.
With stashed draft picks, up-and-coming players and poised veterans, general manager R.C. Buford has lots to offer.
Do: Call Michael Jordan
After years of trial and error, the pieces in Charlotte can’t seem to fit together. Even with the additions of Dwight Howard and Malik Monk in the offseason, the Hornets are on the verge of missing the playoffs for their second consecutive season.
In concurrence with their endeavours, perennial All-Star snub Kemba Walker has been made available by the Hornets organization. Walker is having one of the strongest seasons of his seven-year career. He’s proven himself as an impeccable leader and playmaker in addition to his deep shooting range and wicked handles.
Walker embodies that which the Spurs are lacking in their backcourt. DeJounte Murray is learning the game and has huge upside, but lacks the experience and shooting ability that Gregg Popovich is used to coaching. Walker, on the other hands, is extremely efficient as a distributor, noted by his 2.6 assist to turnover ratio.
It wouldn’t be an easy deal and would require San Antonio to leave their comfort zone, but it would certainly improve the team’s hopes of making a playoff run. For Pop and the gang, that’s all that really matters, right?
Don’t: Hastily field offers for Murray or Forbes
San Antonio’s up-and-coming backcourt has been a bright spot in an otherwise murky season for the organization. Murray and combo guard Bryn Forbes have stepped up on both side of the floor and have truly showcased who they can become as players.
These are players that could become cornerstones for the franchise’s future. They’ve brought a spark of youth and explosiveness to an otherwise aging roster and have been catalysts in many of the Spurs’ best wins this season.
Quote from Pop on what he liked out of Bryn Forbes and Dejounte Murray last night: pic.twitter.com/gzTf5DZhZV
— Bruno Passos (@bouncepassos) January 29, 2018
Forbes at age 24-years old has improved his three-point percentage to 40.2 percent on the season with an effective field goal percentage of 52.6 percent. In addition to his range, he’s shown explosiveness off the drive and has developed one of the team’s deadliest mid-range pull up jumpers. The sky’s the limit for Forbes and opposing GM’s will be aware of this.
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As for Murray, he’s shown great flashes of what he can become since taking over the starting position for Tony Parker. In 22 games this season as a starter, he’s averaged 9.2 points, four assists, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals. Despite struggling to score efficiently, Murray has proven that he can impact a game without dominating the ball. This is a major key in running the point for San Antonio.
General managers will likely inquire about these two rising stars, but don’t be fooled moving them unless its for the right price.
Do: Field offers for Danny Green
Three-and-D wings are a necessity in the modern NBA and Danny Green has been a staple of the style since joining the Spurs in 2010. His stint in the 2013 NBA Finals put him on the league’s radar and the Spurs have received inquiries about him ever since. On a favorable deal at $10 million annually, there’s an interesting case to be made that he’s one of the Spurs’ greatest trade assets.
Now is as good of a time as ever to move Green. He’s developed as a mid-range shooter and slasher to the basket while remaining an elite defensive player. Green is one of two guards to average a steal and a block per game, the other being John Wall.
Any team could use that kind of assistance and the Spurs may benefit from a bit of a roster shakeup, so now is the perfect time to shop Green. They’re already an elite defensive team but lack the staple Spurs offense that they’ve seen in years past. Even with Green, this is one of the worst three-point shooting units they’ve put together in more than a decade and could benefit from some more explosiveness on the wing.
Keeping Green isn’t a bad idea either, but there’s no reason not to gauge his value and see what general managers would be willing to give up for him.
Don’t: Take on another contract
After resigning Pau Gasol and Patty Mills in the offseason, San Antonio locked up their cap space, effectively damaging their opportunities in free agency. They have very little flexibility and an aging roster. To take on another contract would be ludicrous and the organization knows it.
To be fair, the league has been chock full of bad contracts in the past three years. Very few teams have escaped recent CBA fiascoes without overextending a deal or overpaying a role player. Among those front offices, San Antonio has managed to pay reasonable prices for respectable players.
This is a smart organization run by two of the best minds in basketball with Popovich and Buford, so they probably already know this. The Spurs have six players under contract making $10 million or more this season, an amount that would add up if their offense could produce at a high level.
This season, their payroll adds up to $116,749,983, ranking them with the 12th highest payroll in the league. They already have a potential max of $107,471,229 committed for next season.For now, it seems like a waste. Instead of taking on another contract, the Spurs should be looking to move some money off the books.
Of course, this comes with an exception. If they can shift pieces to acquire a real talent then that’s a different story, but the return has to be worth the risk.
Do: Be proactive and make a trade
Historically the Spurs are inactive at the trade deadline. Their most recent trade was a swap of Nando De Colo for Austin Daye in 2014, an underwhelming move to say the least. This is the year where the front office should break the trend.
The Spurs have emerged as a trade suitor for the Clippers' Avery Bradley, according to league sources
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) February 8, 2018
With such an overhaul of players available for trade and the majority of the NBA active, San Antonio has an opportunity to reaffirm their status as a top-tier front office. Scoring has been a real issue for the team this season and their assets are intriguing to opposing GM’s.
Picks, players and considerations should all be on the table at this moment. This is where the front office can prove to the fans and to their star in Leonard that they’re serious about contending.
This is the perfect time for the Spurs to extend outside their comfort zone and follow along with the league’s newfound player mobility.