San Antonio Spurs: Logistics of a Taurean Prince trade with Atlanta

SAN ANTONIO, TX - NOVEMBER 20: Taurean Prince #12 of the Atlanta Hawks handles the ball against Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)
SAN ANTONIO, TX - NOVEMBER 20: Taurean Prince #12 of the Atlanta Hawks handles the ball against Bryn Forbes #11 of the San Antonio Spurs (Photos by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images) /

As the trade deadline rapidly approaches, the San Antonio Spurs should consider building a trade package for Atlanta Hawks small forward Taurean Prince.

Although his numbers have dipped as the team around him becomes balanced, small forward Taurean Prince has been an outstanding find for the restructuring Atlanta Hawks. Selected with the 12th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Prince has taken the skills acquired over his four years at Baylor and become the prototypical NBA small forward with a balanced skill set and emphasis on two-way basketball.

Of the many players whose names have been tossed around on the dawn of the 2019 Trade Deadline, Prince may be the best fit for the San Antonio Spurs. The 25-year-old uses his well-established fundamental understanding of the game to find angles to attack the rim, create separation on jump shots and track down loose balls. Prince’s approach to the game is similar to that of a tactician, meticulously wearing opponents down by outsmarting them and feeding off of his team’s energy.

In 32 games this season, Prince is averaging 13.5 points per game on a career-best 53.7 effective field goal percentage. He’s also contributing decent counting stats with 3.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals in 27.4 minutes per contest. A trade to San Antonio would serve as a homecoming for Prince. The San Antonio-native attended Earl Warren High School before making his way to Waco, Texas for college. His roots and notoriety within the city are already enticing traits for an impassioned fanbase.

Taurean Prince looks like to be the guy you lock onto if you’re the Spurs. If you are truly looking for a wing you HAVE to give ATL a call.

— Brett Solis (@brettsolis12) January 23, 2019

The rumored asking price for Prince is a young player and draft compensation, but the Spurs have a multitude of ways to orchestrate a deal. Both Derrick White and Dejounte Murray should remain off limits in a trade like this because of San Antonio’s need for perimeter defense and playmaking at the point guard spot heading into the future. Third-year guard Bryn Forbes has transformed his play style and could fit nicely with a Hawks team that puts such heavy emphasis on perimeter offense.

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San Antonio would also benefit from moving center Pau Gasol and his lucrative contract. Atlanta is already a tanking team with little veteran presence, so Gasol’s mentorship could prove useful to a developing locker room. Parting ways with Gasol would be an adjustment for the sentimentality but it would push the timeline of center Jakob Poeltl’s growth by allowing for more minutes and less clutter near the paint.

Another player to consider targeting in Atlanta is Jeremy Lin, who has been relegated to the bench in favor of sharpshooting extraordinary Trae Young. His contract would enable San Antonio to move Gasol and add an expiring deal in the process, paving the way for 2019 Free Agency in the Summer.

Parting with Toronto’s first-round pick would be tough considering that the Spurs don’t get many chances to draft multiple players in the preliminary round of the NBA Draft, but it would also put the team in a better position to succeed going forward. If they have the opportunity to shed cap space and bring in two contributors like Prince and Lin then attaching their own first-rounder may also be on the table, but the Toronto pick is more likely to get moved because of the uncertainty surrounding the Western Conference.

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Anything is possible around the trade deadline and the Spurs are in need of a sizeable boost right now. Making a deal with Atlanta for Prince could be a game-changer in this radical season.