4 Key questions facing the Spurs as the trade deadline approaches
The Air Alamo staff got together to discuss key questions facing the San Antonio Spurs as they approach the February 6th trade deadline.
Sitting two games out of playoff contention the San Antonio Spurs have some decisions to make as they approach the February 6th trade deadline. The competition for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference is stiff and other teams are already making moves.
The Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves recently made minor trades and could be gearing up to make a bigger splash. Minnesota reportedly has their eyes set on D’Angelo Russel, pairing him with Karl-Anthony Towns would drastically increase their chances of returning to the post-season. Zion Williamson is set to return Wednesday night against the Spurs, his return can easily take the New Orleans Pelicans from lottery-bound to playoff dark horse.
The San Antonio Spurs have typically avoided making any major adjustments mid-season. They’ve done some tinkering and made smaller deals in the past but nothing that would set NBA Twitter ablaze and drastically change the team’s makeup. However, this season has been anything but typical for the perennially dangerous Spurs.
They’ve struggled more this year than we have seen in a long time. Questionable rotations, sub-par defense, and a lack of consistency have weighed San Antonio down all season. They’re not quite in “blow it up and do a total reset” territory yet but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Spurs call this season a wash and look to the future if their chances of making the playoffs don’t increase soon.
We got the Air Alamo staff together to talk about some key questions as the trade deadline rapidly approaches.
Next: How should the Spurs view the trade deadline?
Should the Spurs be buyers, sellers, or hold at the trade deadline?
Damien Bartonek: With the NBA trade deadline rapidly approaching, the San Antonio Spurs should look to add help at desperate positions of need. As of right now, the Spurs haven’t been consistent whatsoever. With wins against top Eastern Conference teams like Milwaukee and Boston, to losses against mediocre teams like Atlanta and Cleveland, the Silver and Black desperately need consistent outputs on both ends if they want to make the playoffs for a record 23rd time.
Unlike in years past, the Spurs should go against the grain and make a move at the trade deadline. With a sub .500 record and a couple of valuable trade pieces, San Antonio should look to commit towards a win-now move at the trade deadline or completely buy into a rebuild.
Dylan Carter: I’d like to see some creative maneuvering at the trade deadline this year. San Antonio should be gauging the market to make their decision because we don’t really know who’s available this year. It seemed like things were trending up until the Spurs totally disappear against Atlanta for the second time this season. That sealed it for me: BLOW IT UP! Trade veteran pieces for young talent and look toward the future instead of staying stuck in the now.
Kendall Garriss: Conventional wisdom and historical reference would suggest San Antonio, the originators of the “don’t rock the boat” mentality, will stay the course as the trade deadline approaches. However, this year just feels different. With San Antonio sitting at the 9th spot in the Western Conference and uncertainty surrounding the future of their two stars, I’m more and more inclined to believe the Spurs will break the mold and make a move.
With players like DeMar DeRozan, whose future in the Alamo City is far from a sure thing, sharpshooter Marco Belinelli and reliable guard Bryn Forbes, both of whom are on expiring deals, as well as a utility player like DeMarre Carroll, who hasn’t seen a ton of court time despite signing a 3-year deal in the offseason, the Spurs have assets to deal. That is, if they’re willing to come to the table.
Ethan Farina: I’d like to see the San Antonio Spurs move a few players before the deadline and try to get younger, defensive-minded wings or draft picks in return. DeMarre Carroll looked like he would help the Spurs when he was signed this summer but has spent far too much time glued to the bench.
He’s a three-point threat and an aggressive defender, the kind of complementary role player who could help out a team on the fringe of contending for a title. San Antonio doesn’t have to totally smash the restart button but they have players of value wasting away on their bench. Better to move them and reposition for the future than continue paying them to not play.
Next: Should the Spurs trade one of their stars?
Should the San Antonio Spurs trade Aldridge or DeRozan?
Bartonek: Going for a rebuild will be simple, trade your perennial All-Star(s) in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge, ship our veteran Rudy Gay, and completely cut ties with just about anybody who has an expiring or expendable contract. This isn’t a very easy move, but if it is to be done, it’s the best option.
If the Spurs seriously want to make the playoffs for the 23rd straight season, they must make a move at a position and area of need that has been slacking all season long. The Spurs have some gaping flaws as it pertains to the way the roster has been built, from inconsistent one-way players to a true lack of athleticism & identity on Defense.
Carter: Based on my previous answer, the Spurs should probably trade both of their stars, but just one works for now too. Since DeRozan has the player option for next season and is playing the best basketball of his career as of late, he’s probably the guy to send off for a haul of young talent.
Garriss: The noise all season in the Alamo City has been centralized on what the Spurs should do with DeMar. DeRozan and the team don’t seem to be in sync with regard to negotiating a contract extension and, with the former Raptor turning 31 this summer, it doesn’t feel like he fits in with San Antonio’s future plans. Plus, with DeRozan reserving the right to opt-out of his contract after this season, dealing him before the deadline is the most logical course of action so the Spurs don’t lose him for nothing in the offseason. Further, with DeRozan’s recent hot streak, there should be plenty of teams that would love to add a bonafide scorer to their roster. *Cough* Orlando *Cough*
DeMar DeRozan last 13 games:
PTS | FG%25p | 50.0%30p | 85.7%25p | 58.3%36p | 61.1%31p | 58.8%25p | 73.3%26p | 57.1%30p | 52.0%24p | 61.1%29p | 81.3%21p | 53.3%26p | 90.9%24p | 64.3%
The longest streak with 20 points and 50% shooting by a guard in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/wQoJRMToww
— StatMuse (@statmuse) January 18, 2020
Farina: This really depends on the quality of the offer that they would get in return. The Miami Heat have been rumored to be interested in both DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge but that’s just speculation at this point. DeRozan has been on fire over the past two weeks and his perceived value could be at its highest point right now.
If a team like Miami or possibly the Orlando Magic are willing to put together a convincing package of young players and future draft picks then the Spurs should not feel like they’re married to DeRozan. I don’t believe they should be actively shopping their two stars at this point but they should remain open to offers and see who comes calling at the deadline.
Next: Who should the Spurs should try to acquire at the deadline?
Who should the Spurs target at the trade deadline?
Bartonek: The San Antonio Spurs should try to get Jerami Grant from the Denver Nuggets at the trade deadline. San Antonio immediately gets much-needed defensive help at a position of need if they got him. Grant, is your typical modern-day NBA forward. With supreme athleticism and ability to defend multiple positions, while also being an above-average three-point shooter.
He hit the scene fast with the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, starting over 75 games, shooting the three-ball at nearly 40 percent. This season, Grant has been delegated to a bench role, playing 19 or fewer minutes in 32 percent of this season contests, that’s with starting 6 games recently due to the Paul Millsap injury. Regardless, he’s still shown to be a solid three-point shooter even with the lesser role being taken. Essentially being a role player isn’t justice for Grant, as he’s shown to be a competent NBA starting forward, one the Spurs should bring in if the opportunity presents itself.
Grant stands 6’8 with an incredible 7’3 wingspan, with sensational lateral movements and body control on both ends, while also being a very smart player in the open court. He’s a multi-dimensional defender, with all the right tools to become a well-rounded offensive weapon. Barely at age 25, Grant still has loads of untapped potential in that 6’8 body, while also being on a team-friendly deal that expires after the 2021 season.
Carter: I’ve always liked the idea of fitting Myles Turner with this Spurs lineup. He’s from Texas, he spent the summer working with Coach Popovich as part of Team USA, he spaces the floor and defends the rim. His athleticism and defensive instincts would be perfect for this team.
Garriss: Another name that has been making rumblings across the league is All-Star center, Andre Drummond. With Blake Griffin set to miss the rest of the year and Drummond holding a player option after this season, Detroit seems more than ready to smash the reset button and find a new home for the 26-year-old center who’s looking at a big payday this summer as the headliner in a weak free-agent class.
More than anything, the Pistons need cap relief and future assets. The Hawks appeared to be at the forefront of a potential deal, but those discussions have fizzled out, due likely in large part to Atlanta’s reluctance to include a 1st round pick in the exchange.
Would the Spurs be willing to swap DeRozan for Drummond, part ways with a 1st rounder and perhaps a piece like Derrick White, and then have to commit to a long-term deal with Drummond this summer? Hard to say. But if the possibility of acquiring a young and dominant center is on the table then it would be difficult to gloss past it.
Farina: The Spurs should have their eyes on multiple defensive-minded wings. Guys like OG Anunoby, Justise Winslow, and Josh Richardson would all be solid candidates. Trading for those players would be a wholly different challenge. Toronto has a bunch of guys on expiring deals and could be looking to do a total rebuild after they make one last postseason run. Philadelphia is in need of playmakers and shooters. Could Bryn Forbes be a fit there?
Of the three, Winslow would be the easiest one to bring to San Antonio. Miami is rumored to be interested in both Aldridge and DeRozan and given that they’re unlikely to include Bam Adebayo in any trade they would almost certainly have to send Justise to the Spurs in any deal that would get them one of the Spurs stars.
Next: Who should the Spurs try to move at the deadline?
Who is one player the San Antonio Spurs should move at the deadline?
Bartonek: This goes along with my suggestion that the Spurs try to trade for Jerami Grant. Schematically, Bryn and Marco fit great in Mike Malone’s offense. Bryn and Marco would be perfect in the variety of screen actions that lead to stationary handoffs that ultimately lead to an open three at the top of the arc, as well as the variety of other methods of cutting and off-ball movement Malone focuses heavily on. Denver’s bench unit ranked 19th in the NBA in points, desperately needs a boost offensively.
Denver could use the help given to them in this deal. The Nuggets are one of the league’s worst three-point shooting teams. Shooting a tick over 34 percent from beyond the arc, the Nuggets will get a boost from adding two, three-point marksmen that need a new home and fresh start in Colorado. Denver could desperately use a sharpshooter from distance, especially one that played an excellent series against them just a season ago.
Carter: The Spurs should try to trade Bryn Forbes at the deadline. He’s a defensive liability and the team can’t afford to deal with that anymore. He has a cheap contract and could contribute a scoring punch to any team around the league instantly.
Garriss: Along with DeRozan, Marco Belinelli ranks as one of San Antonio’s more enticing assets. No, he hasn’t delivered a spectacular season thus far and he’s still a liability on the defensive end, but at his core, Belinelli is a scorer who can hit a tough bucket when you need it. Three-point scoring is a premium in this league and teams such as the 76ers have been scouring the market to bolster their supporting cast.
Belinelli, a career 37.5 percent three-point shooter, has already had success in Philly, averaging 13.6 points in 28 games back during the 2017-18 season. That coupled with his expiring deal would make this a logical reunion that would provide the Sixers with another shooter and net the Spurs a few assets in return.
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Farina: This has to be DeMarre Carroll. He’s a seasoned veteran who has played in some tough playoff games and yet he’s only played in six games since December. If he was an established veteran who was an integral part of the Spurs culture I could see the justification for keeping him on the team. But he’s not. He was brought in this summer to play defense and hit three’s and he’s not being given a chance to do either.
The Spurs are further solidifying their rotations and he’s clearly not being given a bigger role any time soon. With young guys like Keldon Johnson and Luka Samanic coming up in the G-League, there will soon be even more guys clamoring for the minutes Carroll could hypothetically receive. He doesn’t deserve to have to go through this and the Spurs shouldn’t be giving $7 million to a guy who has done almost nothing for them.
To be clear, none of this is Carroll’s fault. He’s played well in his very limited minutes but he’s clearly not going to be a big part of the Spurs rotation at any point this season. San Antonio should just acknowledge that it was a bad deal and move him to a team that values him and can offer a second-round draft pick or two in return.
Trades are already being made and were still just under a month away from the deadline. As rumors start flying keep an eye on San Antonio Spurs. They’ve avoided making big moves in teh past but are approaching a crossroads. How they choose to handle this year’s trade deadline will be very interesting.