Of the teams needing to enter a win-now mindset, the Washington Wizards are near the top. In this deal, the San Antonio Spurs can nab a young asset.
For all intents and purposes, LaMarcus Aldridge is going to be with the San Antonio Spurs as of next season. They guaranteed his contract for 2020-21, ensuring that he’ll get paid and remain a member of the team. Unless they opt to trade him, which we’ve done many times, he’ll remain at the center position soaking up minutes that would otherwise go to restricted free agent Jakob Poeltl.
No one from the Spurs’ perspective wants to see Jakob go, but he’s probably going to pursue a better opportunity in the future. His minutes remained stagnant from last year to this one despite being the most statistically valuable and influential defensive player on the roster. We’re seeing in the Orlando restart how much better the team is with him on the floor versus off it — even if it’s in place of a former All-NBA player.
Jakob wants his minutes and unfortunately, the Spurs might now be able to give it to him. Therefore, a sign-and-trade could be the way to go for the 24-year-old Austrian big. One team that surely needs defense is the Washington Wizards, who were a historically bad defensive team that’s trying to keep its star long-term. To ensure that Bradley Beal doesn’t force his way out while putting John Wall in a position to compete, they would be a likely candidate to pursue Poeltl.
Rui Hachimura joins the San Antonio Spurs for Jakob Poeltl (S&T) and a 2020 second-round pick.
By swapping Poeltl for rookie forward Rui Hachimura, the Spurs are bringing in a player who can start the four spot next to Aldridge who can defend multiple positions and add an athletic, versatile skill-set to a shaky frontcourt. At 6-foot-8, Hachimura has leaping ability and strength that he uses to clean up the glass, move his feet in transition, rotate on defense and provide protection from the weak side. Unfortunately, this Wizards team was so incompetent defensively that he never got the chance to show it.
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In silver and black, Hachimura can play a more comfortable role in which he can capitalize on his strengths and improve on his weaknesses. Washington could be uncomfortable trading away their new draft pick so soon but they’d essentially just be swapping one lottery pick for another — except their returning player is much more prepared to compete now.
Poeltl went ninth in 2016 and Hachimura went eighth last season. Poeltl fits what the Wizards need now instead of giving them yet another piece to bank on for the future. If they add Poeltl, the Wizards are much more likely to be put in a winning position for 2021. Adding a sure-fire starter takes the pressure off of Thomas Bryant who’s probably not suited to be a starter, but might excel in that Montrezl Harrell role off the bench.
For the Spurs, they bring along a high-upside prospect who’s mature for a sophomore that aligns with team culture and needs. All accounts lean toward Rui begin a model citizen and a coachable player as most Gonzaga alumni are in the NBA. He’d adapt to the Spurs in no-time, leaving the team with an easier cap hit while leaning further into the youth movement.
Plus, the Wizards kinda owe the Spurs for that Bertans trade. Sheesh.
You can find other articles in this series by clicking on the team name below:
Western Conference: LA Clippers, Sacramento Kings, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, New Orleans Pelicans, Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies. Eastern Conference: Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets, Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic.