The San Antonio Spurs may have the assets to make a major move at the trade deadline. Could they be looking into a trade for Aaron Gordon?
The San Antonio Spurs typically do not make roster shaking moves at the trade deadline. Maybe a few tweaks and adjustments but nothing that changes the landscape of the NBA.
It’s time to change that.
The Spurs should shake things up before February 7th and acquire an outstanding big man from the Orlando Magic. No, not Nikola Vucevic. Let’s go get Aaron Gordon. The Magic are dangerously close to making the playoffs. Currently 1.5 games back of the eighth seed, they are a win streak away from missing out on the lottery.
That shouldn’t be the goal for a team that has been stuck in rebuild purgatory for the better part of a decade. Continuing to acquire young assets and picks until the right roster is built can be a frustrating process. But for a small market team like Orlando it’s the only real viable option to return to relevance.
San Antonio can help with that.
The Spurs don’t have a war chest of picks like the Boston Celtics, but they do have an intriguing combination of picks and young players at positions where the Magic desperately need help.
Next: How Aaron Gordon Would Fit In San Antonio
How Aaron Gordon Would Fit In San Antonio
First let’s talk about Gordon’s potential fit in San Antonio. The Arizona product is one of the most disturbingly athletic players the NBA has ever seen. He can play both forward positions as well as a bit of small-ball center, defends well, and has shown improvements in his three-point shooting.
He is also only 23 years old.
Pairing Gordon with LaMarcus Aldridge would give the Spurs one of the most formidable big man duos in the NBA. Trotting out a lineup of DeMar DeRozan, Gordon, and Aldridge would give San Antonio some serious offensive power.
Outside of the Golden State Warriors there wouldn’t be a team in the West that could hope to contain that trio.
If Aaron Gordon cut back on the midrange shots and continues to improve from deep he could easily fit in alongside DeRozan and Aldridge. pic.twitter.com/o5sWzBwuXe
— Ethan Farina (@EthanMarcel) January 17, 2019
Gordon’s shot selection actually meshes well with San Antonio’s two stars.
He’s currently hitting 35% of his three pointers and he’s shooting 37% from the corners. The corner three has long been a staple of many NBA offenses, but it’s particularly important for San Antonio.
The Spurs don’t shoot a ton of three pointers, but when they do they prioritize high-percentage looks and they’re currently knocking down 43% of their corner three’s. That has helped to make them the best three-point shooting team in the league.
Gordon would fit in as a third option alongside DeRozan and Aldridge and could be relied upon to consistently cut for easy looks at the rim or shoot from the corner in the Spurs’ offense. He’s also more than capable of putting the ball on the floor and carrying the load on his own.
With Gordon on the team, the Spurs would be able to stagger minutes so that they always have two star players on the court.
Acquiring Gordon would also move Rudy Gay back to the bench, and that might not be such a bad thing. Gay has started 33 games this season and is averaging roughly 27 minutes per contest. Those numbers are up from his 6 starts and 22 minutes per night from last year.
Gay has been playing well. He’s posting career highs in field goal and three-point percentage and has looked like the high flyer he was before he suffered an Achilles tendon tear two years ago. That being said, the workload is starting to take its toll as Gay has missed several games due to injury.
Moving him back to the bench would reduce his workload and allow him to continue his career-best season by feasting on opposing bench players. It’s a win-win for San Antonio and Rudy.
Finally, acquiring Gordon would give San Antonio a bona fide star to pair with Dejounte Murray to stabilize their future. Aldridge is a phenomenal player but he’s also 33 years old and under contract until he’s 35. He’s got a few years left in the tank, but its never too early to start thinking about the future. Adding Gordon would give the Spurs another young stud to pair with 21-year-old Murray to give the Spurs a future to build around while simultaneously elevating their current potential.
Next: What the Spurs would have to give up
What the Spurs would have to give up
In exchange for Gordon the Spurs could offer a trio of Pau Gasol, Lonnie Walker IV, and Derrick White plus one or two picks. The Magic would also include a bench player like Jerian Grant in order to make everything work.
The Magic have a log jam in their front court. Orlando general manager John Hammond didn’t draft Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac for them to sit on the bench, they are the future of this organization and should be on the floor. Moving Gordon instantly opens up minutes for those two.
Nikola Vucevic might be on his way out too. Bringing in Gasol, White, and Walker adds complimentary pieces to the Magic’s core that will help open up the floor and provide a mentor for Bamba and Isaac.
After spending the majority of his rookie season in Austin with the Spurs development team, White has proven to be a more-than-capable two-way guard. He’s been starting for San Antonio since early December and has been one of the leading reasons they’ve been playing so well.
His high basketball IQ, passing ability, and ability to guard multiple positons would be an asset on any team. The Magic are currently starting D.J. Augustin at point guard, so they could definitely use some help at that position.
White might not be a future All-Star, but he’s proven that he can hang with some of the best guards in the league night after night.
Lonnie Walker IV remains a bit of a mystery. He’s only seen five minutes of NBA action thus far so there isn’t a lot to evaluate. However, his G-League performance does offer signs of what’s to come.
In an early January game against the Memphis Hustle, Walker erupted for 34 points and connected on 4/6 of his three point attempts. Walker would give the Magic another three-point shooter they desperately need. He fits the timetable that they currently have and has immense upside.
He’s a high character player who is going to stick around the league for a long time, he just hasn’t been able to crack the rotation in San Antonio. In Orlando, he would get the playing time he deserves on a team that could really use what he brings to the table. The White – Walker duo would help Orlando spread the floor and get the ball to their two young big men.
Gasol is included in this trade for two reasons, but the primary reason is to make the salary situation work. His sizable contract would have to be moved in order for San Antonio to take on Gordon’s deal. He would also be a great mentor for Bamba and Isaac. Gasol is on his way out of the league. Simply put, he’s old and slow. But he’s seen everything that this league has to offer.
He’s made multiple All-NBA and All-Star teams and has two championship rings from his time with the Lakers. The wisdom he could impart on Bamba and Isaac and the veteran leadership he would bring to a rebuilding team like the Magic would be invaluable.
San Antonio would certainly have to include one or more first round picks to make this deal happen. The Spurs have their own 2019 first round pick as well as Toronto’s top-20 protected pick. They also have their own first round picks in 2020 and 2021.
Orlando should already be looking to the draft to acquire a star point guard, perhaps Ja Morant from Murray State or Darius Garland from Vanderbilt. Adding more picks to the war chest will only help Orlando’s efforts to build a contending team through the draft.
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The rationale behind this trade is simple: San Antonio gets Aaron Gordon, a multi-positional freak athlete who raises their immediate potential while stabilizing their future.
Orlando gets players who fill positional needs in Derrick White and Lonnie Walker IV, a wise veteran to mentor their young big men in Pau Gasol, as well as draft picks to help their continuing rebuild.
Could Orlando get more for Gordon? Maybe. But this deal would fill multiple holes in their roster, open up minutes for Mo Bamba and Johnathan Isaac, and give them additional ammo to build out the roster that John Hammond envisions.
This type of big-time move at the trade deadline would be outside of the norm for San Antonio. However, the entire past few years have been outside of the norm after the end of the Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker era.
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If the Spurs do decide to make a major move, they should take a hard look at Aaron Gordon.