There’s certainly a minutes crunch coming in the San Antonio Spurs backcourt but the answer to that is certainly not sending Derrick White away
It’s still too early to tell but you can already see the shape of another minutes crunch coming in the San Antonio Spurs backcourt. Given the financial ramifications of COVID-19 on the league, it’s looking more and more possible that DeMar DeRozan could opt-in to the last year of his deal. If he sticks around the Spurs are going to have to get really creative with their rotations.
Between DeRozan, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, Dejounte Murray, and Keldon Johnson there are quite a few mouths to feed in the Spurs backcourt. That’s not even considering the minutes that will have to be allocated to veterans like Patty Mills and possibly Bryn Forbes. The folks at Bleacher Report have come up with a solution though, and it involves shipping White to the Sunshine State.
Greg Swartz proposed a deal that would send Derrick White and Rudy Gay to the Orlando Magic for Mo Bamba, Al-Farouq Aminu, and a lottery-protected 2021 first-round pick. It’s not a horrible deal, but it’s far below what the Spurs should be seeking in return for White.
The proposed trade sent Spurs Twitter into a tizzy. Everyone was chiming in on the merits of bringing in Bamba, how it would give the Spurs an option to avoid paying Jakob Poeltl this summer, getting out from under Rudy Gay’s final year, opening up minutes for Lonnie and Dejounte, and what Aminu could do for the team’s defense. There’s a lot of angles to this deal, so let’s get into it.
The centerpiece of the Spurs’ potential return is clearly Bamba. The former 6th overall pick has had an interesting but brief time in the NBA. In a frontcourt with more established players like Nikola Vuceivic and Jonathan Isaac, he’s struggled to carve out a meaningful role, averaging just 15 minutes per game over his first two seasons.
Unless you’re an avid Orlando Magic fan (in which case you have my deepest sympathies) you probably haven’t seen too much of Bamba over the past two years. And while most haven’t been paying attention, Bamba has been able to harness his otherworldly height and wingspan to average the most blocks per 100 possessions in the NBA (4.8). The potential is there, perhaps he just needs the right opportunity.https://videos.nba.com/nba/pbp/media/2019/11/17/0021900185/182/9a6fd4e8-e3fa-71b4-1059-8a9ee843fb30_1280x720.mp4
The proposed trade would land San Antonio Spurs promising big man Mo Bamba
That’s the biggest selling point for proponents of this hypothetical deal, if there is a coaching staff that can bring out the most in Bamba, it should be the Spurs. With Gregg Popovich and Tim Duncan in his ear, he’d be in the best position possible to reach his sky-high potential. And he’d be doing it on a rookie deal, letting the Spurs avoid handing Poeltl an extension this summer and potentially letting him walk if they viewed Bamba as the future.
But outside of Bamba, the rest of the package that the Spurs would get isn’t too enticing. Aminu is a talented defender but he’s also guaranteed close to $10 million a year over the next two years and isn’t going to move the needle on the Spurs playoff hopes. But we all know how Pop prefers playing veterans over youngsters, maybe the front office would make the deal to appease him in what could be his final few years with the team.
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Then there is that 2021 lottery-protected first-round pick. The 2021 draft class is projected to be stacked with star-caliber talent, that’s going to be a valuable pick. Although, given the Magic’s nearly permanent place in the lottery, it’d likely be conveyed in 2022. Removing the lottery protection on that pick would make it a much more attractive offer.
And then there is the unspoken potential benefit of getting White away from the Spurs. Don’t get me wrong, White is a phenomenal player, but as a fanbase, it feels like we’re all convincing ourselves that he, Murray, Walker, and, to some degree, Johnson, can all thrive together. And frankly, that’s just unrealistic.
Of the four, maybe two have All-Star potential. That’s probably Murray and Walker, White might be an All-Star someday, he might not. But he’s got an extension coming his way sooner than you think and he’s going to want his bag. The Spurs will have to quickly decide how much that potential is worth to them, and consider how signing him to a long term deal will impact the growth of Murray and Walker as well.
As far as hypothetical trade deals go this isn’t the worst one we’ve seen. What do you think San Antonio Spurs fans, how would you feel about this deal?