Patty Mills is a sneaky trade asset to watch for the San Antonio Spurs

Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Patty Mills #8 of the San Antonio Spurs. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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He’s the longest-tenured member of the San Antonio Spurs but Patty Mills could also fetch quite the return as the trade deadline nears.

With all of the difficulties that have come with this San Antonio Spurs season, I’ve found myself watching more old Spurs highlights than I would like to admit. After every frustrating loss or bad Bryn Forbes game its a comfort to be able to head over to YouTube and reminisce on better days of beautiful basketball.

The lone connecting thread between that great San Antonio Spurs team of 2014 and today’s group is the firey Patty Mills. Mills is the longest-tenured player on this Spurs roster and is in the midst of one of the best seasons of his career. He’s saved the Spurs in a few games and stabilized them in others. As important as he has been to the team’s success, he’s also made himself into quite the trade asset.

Patty is an excellent secondary ball-handler, deadeye three-point shooter, and NBA Champion on an expiring contract. That’s quite the package of traits and is almost exactly what contending teams on the fringes might be looking for. As tough as it would be to trade away the fan-favorite, now is no time to be getting sentimental.

While discussing some potential Spurs trades, former Spurs reporter Jabari Young, now with CNBC, included a bit from one of his sources that San Antonio is “100 percent obsessed” with making the playoffs. Every potential deal involving Mills, or any Spurs player, should be viewed through that lens. If a hypothetical trade happens to benefit San Antonio down the road that’s an additional bonus, but it sounds like making the playoffs is the Spurs’ first and foremost goal.

That said, one recently floated deal seems pretty unlikely. The Ringer‘s J. Kyle Mann recently came up with a deal between the Philadelphia 76ers and San Antonio Spurs that would send Mills to Philly in exchange for Zhaire Smith, Jonah Bolden, and Mike Scott. That might look intriguing on its face, Smith and Bolden certainly have their upsides, but it wouldn’t help the Spurs right now.

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Given San Antonio’s postseason aspirations that particular deal with the 76ers doesn’t seem likely but Philly still offers potential as a trade partner. If San Antonio feels confident in their ability to weather Patty’s departure they could inquire about the availability of Josh Richardson. He’s out for a while dealing with a hamstring injury but could be back in time to help the Spurs make a final push for the eighth seed.

Other teams to watch would be the Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic. Both are trying to solidify their spots in the playoff pecking order, the Lakers as championship favorites and the Magic as postseason participants, and both could use guard help. The Lakers have been linked to Derrick Rose over the past weeks but if they strike out there Mills could be a viable option.

The difficult part about moving Mills would be finding a deal that doesn’t drastically set the Spurs back too much, doesn’t benefit any of their immediate competition for the eighth seed and is financially possible. Patty’s on expiring deal but its worth close to $12.5 million, that’s not easily moved.

Next. San Antonio Spurs have mutually beneficial trade option with OKC, Knicks

Patty’s been a valuable asset throughout his entire career with the Spurs and other teams have surely taken notice. Given San Antonio’s unstable position in the playoff picture, it would be surprising if other teams haven’t made inquiries about his availably. Whether the Spurs decide to act on any of those talks is an entirely different matter.

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