It would sting losing someone who’s been so vital to this organization’s success, but it’s time for the San Antonio Spurs to move on from Patty Mills.
The San Antonio Spurs are heading into this offseason coming off of yet another year where they exceeded expectations.
Most NBA pundits thought that a team led by two stars who did most of their damage in the midrange and lost their starting point guard to a season-ending injury days before the regular season started couldn’t make the playoffs in a loaded Western Conference.
However, the Spurs’ dynasty just kept chugging along as they made their 22nd straight postseason appearance and were five points away from pulling off an upset over the Nuggets and moving on to the second round.
This organization should continue to make the playoffs like clockwork after Gregg Popovich signed a three-year extension on his contract to remain the figurehead of one of the greatest organizations in sports.
San Antonio is pretty locked in to their current roster for the next couple of years, and this current iteration of the team has a definite ceiling even if some of their young talent takes a major step forward.
But there is one way the Spurs could shake the roster up and raise that ceiling: trading Patty Mills.
The main reason the Spurs should be looking to move Patty Mills this offseason is his contract.
Mills still has two years remaining on a four-year, $49.7 million deal the Spurs handed him during the summer of 2017.
Patty’s annual salary is about $2.4 million higher than Rudy Gay‘s salary, which was the fourth-highest on last season’s team.
Mills brings veteran leadership and energy to this team, but that simply isn’t worth the $13.3 million salary he will be paid over the final two years of his deal.
Patty flies around on defense, but his diminutive size will always make him a liability on that end of the floor, and he’s only going to get worse as he enters his 30’s. Now would be a perfect time to cut bait on that deal, and try to get something in return.
Next: Replacements on Roster
Replacements on the Roster
Another reason the Spurs should move on from Patty Mills this offseason is their depth at guard.
With Dejounte Murray back and healthy next season and Derrick White taking a major step forward in year two, San Antonio is set at the point guard position for the future.
Bryn Forbes is also capable of taking over Patty’s role on the court as a knockdown three-point shooter, and he improved his playmaking skills by leaps and bounds this year. Forbes already played more minutes than Mills this season, and he would fit in perfectly to Patty’s sixth man role once Murray is back on the floor.
Lonnie Walker is also expected to see an uptick in minutes next season after spending much of his rookie year in the G League, which doesn’t leave much playing time for Patty if all these players remain healthy.
The Spurs’ front office has done a tremendous job acquiring young guard talent over the past few years, which means they won’t miss Mills very much if they decide to deal him away this offseason.
Next: What the Spurs could get back
What the Spurs could get back
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As discussed earlier, Patty Mills’ contract is probably seen as a negative value across the league and that will affect what the Spurs could get back for him in a potential trade.
San Antonio should be looking for a cheap wing or big man in a Patty Mills deal, or they could even take on a comparable salary that expires next summer which would be easier to stomach than paying Mills over $13 million a year for the next two years.
The Spurs should be looking to find a trade partner who is willing to tank and has a trade exception to take on Mills’ contract without sending a bunch of money back to San Antonio in the deal. In that type of trade, the Spurs could potentially add a future second round pick to extract some sort of value in a potential deal.
San Antonio shouldn’t be worried too much about what they’re able to get back. The cap space they would clear by trading Mills is the most important asset in this deal, and the Spurs should be looking for anyone who’s willing to eat the remaining money on Patty’s contract.
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It would be a sad day in San Antonio to see them trade away a player who’s meant so much to this organization, but it would be the right move for both the short and long-term future of the franchise.