Not every trade has to be season-altering, and this swap of second-rounders between the LA Clippers and San Antonio Spurs bodes well for both.
There aren’t many deals that make sense financially or theoretically between the San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers, but they can each address needs by diving a little bit deeper. LA’s roster is built with a win-now mentality based on their blockbuster acquisitions of former Spur Kawhi Leonard and All-NBA wing Paul George this offseason.
It wouldn’t make much sense for San Antonio to pursue a sign-and-trade for Montrzel Harrell, a 25-year-old big man because they can simply retain Jakob Poeltl at a fraction of the price in free agency. San Antonio doesn’t have room in the backcourt for someone like sharpshooter Landry Shamet, and most of the Spurs’ veterans are paid too much to make a sensible deal work.
So, these two organizations would need to dive deeper and evaluate their young talent. They’re each developing the next generation of their players and right now, a two-way guard who can play both positions in the backcourt would help bolster the rotation. After trading away rising star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the PG deal, they could use a young, athletic prospect to backup Pat Beverley.
The San Antonio Spurs and LA Clippers should swap members of the 2019 NBA Draft Class — Quinndary Weatherspoon for Mfiondu Kabengele.
LA is stacked in the frontcourt and is likely to retain Harrell’s services this offseason. With that in mind, they can safely move off of one of their young bigs to improve their weakest position: The point guard. Bringing in Spurs guard Quinndary Weatherspoon goes them a player of similar quality to the player they’re trading away, rookie Mfiondu Kabengele.
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During 36 games in the G-League season, Weatherspoon filled the stat sheet with 14.8 points, 4.8 assists, four rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. He was a sure-fire leader with excellent hustle and heart on both sides of the floor. After moving off of Jermone Robinson and Gilgeous-Alexander, the only point guard that LA has locked up through next season is Pat Bev, who turns 32 in eight days. Injecting some youth and fresh blood into that lineup could help them achieve that next level.
Meanwhile, the Spurs can bring in a modern NBA center with tremendous upside as a rim-runner and defender. Kabengele has a high motor and a ton of athleticism that he channels through ferocious dunks and masterful rebounding. He averaged 18.7 points, 9.3 boards and 1.9 blocks in 27 games with the Agua Caliente Clippers, proving that he’s got what it takes to compete after falling out of the first round in the 2019 NBA Draft.
San Antonio hasn’t shown any commitment to its young bigs and clearly, the Clippers are open to fleshing out their roster as soon as possible. Weatherspoon has what it takes to compete in the NBA right now, as does Kabengele, but their’s respective teams don’t have the minutes to make it happen. Even if it means throwing in an extra second-rounder to sweeten the deal, the Spurs would be wise to pitch any offer they can for Kabengele.