San Antonio Spurs: Evaluating the New Orleans Pelicans’ trade targets
By Andrew Ites
The New Orleans Pelicans may be a major seller at the trade deadline if they deal Anthony Davis. Are any of their other trade pieces a good fit for the San Antonio Spurs?
Anthony Davis is obviously the most talented player being discussed in trade rumors as we near the deadline, and his future affects nearly every team in the league including the San Antonio Spurs.
I concocted a couple of trade offers for Davis when he decided he wanted out of New Orleans, but the Spurs are not in the driver’s seat in the AD sweepstakes.
The more realistic move for San Antonio would be an attempt to poach one of the Pelicans’ other players who will be in the trade market if New Orleans decides to trade Davis and give up on the season.
The Pelicans have some intriguing talent that could fit in well with the Spurs.
Let’s break down their top three players outside of AD and determine whether San Antonio should consider making a move for them in the coming days.
Next: Jrue Holiday
Jrue Holiday is the second-best player on New Orleans’ roster, and the Pelicans may want to move him if they are considering a total rebuild in the post-AD era.
Holiday would probably be an All-Star in the Eastern Conference this season as he’s scoring 21 points per game with 8 assists and nearly 5 rebounds while swiping 1.6 steals and maintaining a true shooting percentage of 55.7%.
Point guard really isn’t a position of need for the Spurs now or in the future with Derrick White and Dejounte Murray in the fold, but Gregg Popovich could shift Holiday to shooting guard to play alongside one of their young point guards.
Holiday is in the second year of a four-year deal with a player option that will pay him an average salary of $26.4 million over the course of his contract.
I love Jrue Holiday as a player, but I don’t think he’s a good enough fit for San Antonio to give up any major future assets for him.
Next: Julius Randle
Julius Randle is in the midst of the best year of his career as he’s developed into the versatile big man that people in the NBA believed he could be when he was drafted.
Other than LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs don’t have any reliable bigs on their roster with an aging Pau Gasol and an underwhelming Jakob Poeltl soaking up many of those minutes.
Randle is on a one-year deal with a player option next season where he would be paid just over $9 million.
Randle has probably played well enough to earn more than that in the open market this summer, so this could end up being a rental for the Spurs.
I think going after Julius Randle is a more realistic option for San Antonio than trying to pursue Jrue Holiday, but I don’t think it would be a home run trade for the Spurs.
Next: Nikola Mirotic
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I think Nikola Mirotic is the best fit for San Antonio among these three players.
As mentioned earlier, the Spurs’ roster isn’t flush with great big men and Mirotic would add an element to San Antonio’s offense that they don’t have with their current crop of players.
Mirotic is shooting 36.8% from three this season, which could provide some spacing around the Spurs’ two stars who like to do most of their damage in the midrange.
He’s an above average defender for his position (32nd in defensive real plus-minus among 91 qualifying power forwards), and Mirotic is capable of making San Antonio’s bench unit even more lethal than it has been this season with his ability to get hot from three.
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The Montenegro native is set to be a free agent this offseason, so the Spurs wouldn’t have to give up much to get him or commit to him past this year.
If San Antonio decides to inquire about one of the Pelicans’ potential trade targets, I think Nikola Mirotic would be the best choice considering his fit and contract situation.