Reports indicate that the Magic are interested in trading for DeMar DeRozan. It would be wise for the San Antonio Spurs to at least listen to offers.
Trading away marquee players mid-season is not something the San Antonio Spurs would’ve done in the past, but times are changing. There’s no more Big Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker to rely on and R.C. Buford is not present to steer the ship in the right direction.
As a result, first-year general manager Brian Wright may need to adjust based on his predecessor’s decisions and redirect the Spurs after this difficult 5-7 start. Reported by renowned writer and columnist Kevin O’Conner of The Ringer, the Spurs’ most recent opponent could be in the market for a dynamic scoring wing.
“Multiple league sources say the Magic are scouring the trade market for scoring help and have already expressed interest in trading for DeRozan.”
A breakup between San Antonio and its leading scorer wouldn’t be a complete shock considering the team’s stagnation over the last two years. For as well as DeMar DeRozan fits with the Spurs’ culture off the court, his ball-dominant style and limited arsenal as a three-point shooter and defender oftentimes hurt his team.
For many Spurs fans, the most exciting reason to watch the team is the flourishing young players. Moving DeRozan for a younger, more impressionable player could help set forth the next generation of Spurs basketball – one meant to emphasize a team-first playstyle with an improved defensive presence.
DeRozan’s team-leading performance in the Spurs’ two-point loss in Orlando could’ve boosted his value in the eyes of the Magic, but what are their most enticing trade chips?
Next: The many offerings of Orlando
The many offerings of Orlando
Similarly to the Spurs, Orlando is in a season of flux with their young players stepping up into larger roles around the solidified core of veterans. The primary scorer on their team is All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, who they’re unlikely to trade any time soon barring a mess of unforeseen circumstances.
Arguably their most enticing piece, however, is 22-year-old Jonathan Isaac. A 6-foot-11 forward from Florida State, Isaac is an athletic specimen for his lengthy build, physical nature and innate defensive instincts. His ability to switch on defenders of any position is a tool the Spurs would hugely benefit from if he were to land in San Antonio.
Orlando’s front office, led by former-Bucks general manager John Hammond, has targetted big-time athletes with length in recent years, which has improved their team defensively but leaves a lot to be desired on the other end. After playing only 27 games in his rookie year, Isaac has progressed in playing time and efficiency with each passing season.
It’s not likely that the Magic move him, but the Spurs have a decent case to make considering how unproven he is in comparison to DeRozan’s long resume of personal and team success. Now that LeBron James is in the Western Conference, DeRozan could certainly be the top-option on a team competing through the playoffs in the East.
Other enticing options include second-year center Mohammed Bamba, a Harlem-native that spent one year at LaMarcus Aldridge’s college, Texas. His rim presence and offensive potential would be extremely exciting for a Spurs team lacking exceptionalism in the frontcourt aside from Aldridge himself.
It’s been a rough start to the season for Magic forward Aaron Gordon, whose field goal and three-point percentages are down from last season. With incredible athletic ability and hustle on both ends of the floor, Gordon is a primary buy-low candidate right now.
The Spurs could also consider Evan Fournier, Khem Birch or DJ Augustin. Orlando isn’t likely to trade former No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz since the rising talent is finally getting comfortable with the organization and could ascend to a superstar if the stars align.
Next: Proposing a deal that makes sense for both parties
Proposing a deal that makes sense for both parties
First and foremost, the Spurs’ ideal trade would have to include Isaac. This is wildly unrealistic considering the praise he’s earned through the progression of his early-career, but it’d be wise to inquire about the former-Seminole.
In an effort to retool the roster and align contract, I’d suggest the Spurs offer DeRozan, expiring center Jakob Poeltl and a future second-round pick to the Magic in exchange for Gordon and Bamba. The contracts align and give San Antonio two exciting young players with tremendous defensive potential to add to their young core.
— Air Alamo (@AirAlamo) November 14, 2019
This would open up minutes for the likes of Keldon Johnson and Lonnie Walker IV in the rotation, officially ushering in the next generation of Spurs. DeRozan serves as a bridge linking the team of the past and the grouping of the future.
For the Magic, they’ll have their best wing of this decade in DeRozan and a hard-working backup center to help relegate the loss of Bamba. Poeltl has been a more effective player than Bamba in most cases through their young careers, and Poeltl is ready to compete now for a Magic team hoping to build off of its playoff bid last season.
The addition of a future second-round pick is to sweeten the deal and entice Orlando with an additional asset. For as talented as DeRozan is, he also is known to have a ceiling at this point in his career and the Magic will be wary of that. However, he only has one year left on his team with a player option for next year, so there’s not a ton of risk involved.
Next: How does this adjust the Spurs’ timeline?
How does this adjust the Spurs’ timeline?
San Antonio is on track to miss the playoffs this season. This is a wild thought, especially considering the fact that an appearance this season would set the NBA’s all-time record for consecutive playoff appearances by a single franchise. However, the West is loaded and the chances of the Spurs missing the postseason increase with each passing year.
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By trading away their leading scorer, the Spurs would be making the most of their return on the Kawhi Leonard deal by extending DeRozan’s value. However, this is not a win-now move. Instead, it’s a move to assure a brighter future while running the risk of losing out now.
Considering the young depth of the roster and aging of their vets in Aldridge, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli and Rudy Gay, this would be an official signaling of the next wave of Spurs basketball. This year’s trio of rookies – Luka Samanic, Quinndary Weatherspoon and Johnson – project to be highly talented. Getting the reps in their rookie year would help them to better understand the level of competition in the NBA.
Gordon is under contract for two seasons after this one and Bamba is only on the second year of his rookie deal. At least with these two on the roster along with the rookies and Dejounte Murray, the Spurs have a glimmer of what their future post-Aldridge looks like. Needless to say, it’d be a dynamic one.
It’s hard to be optimistic about mid-season trades in San Antonio. They don’t happen often and are highly improbable, but with the Magic showing interest, it’s worth a try.