These trades could all be in play if the San Antonio Spurs get the top pick
In missing the playoffs for the first time since 1997, the San Antonio Spurs turned a page in their storied history. They haven’t been in the draft lottery since they lucked out and got the opportunity to pick Tim Duncan all those years ago.
Looking forward, the future is bright for the Spurs. They’ve got a well-rounded backcourt that proved they can hang with the best teams in the league during their time in Orlando. Their bigs are coming on as well. Jakob Poeltl is coming off of an impressive second season with the team, Drew Eubanks certainly caught our eyes with his play in the bubble, and we even got to see Luka Samanic show why he’s such an exciting young talent in the teams final regular-season game.
It’s clear that, wherever the Spurs end up picking, they should be focused on a wing or a floor-spacing forward. Those are clearly the two biggest areas of need right now. Although using a top pick on a versatile big man like Onyeka Okongwu wouldn’t be a bad move either.
There’s also the option of trading down. This draft isn’t as star-studded as draft classes of year’s past but there should be an opportunity for the Spurs to trade out of the number one pick if they’re lucky enough to land it.
Bleacher Report recently published a series of possible trades for every team if they land the top pick. Their hypothetical deal for the Spurs was underwhelming, to say the least. Here are a few trade deals that we felt were much more reasonable.
Next: Help from the Windy City
The San Antonio Spurs can help the Chicago Bulls secure their future
It didn’t take long for former Denver Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas to start leaving his fingerprints on the Chicago Bulls. The latest development has been the firing of former head coach Jim Boylen. Bulls fans rejoiced as the franchise parted ways with a coach who was clearly disconnected from his players.
The Bulls are already in a good spot heading into Thursday’s draft lottery. On their own, they’ve got a 7.5 percent chance of landing the top pick, according to Tankathon. In total, they’ve got a 31.9 percent chance of moving into the top-four. But that might not be enough for Karnisovas. If he’s determined to continue his streak of drastic, but highly celebrated moves, he could be inclined to trade up to the first pick.
Nothing too fancy here, but a deal that could help both teams. This pick swap would give the Bulls their choice at the top of the draft. They’d be able to carefully evaluate top prospects like LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman and move forward with whichever one they feel is the best choice for the style their future head coach wants to play. Hard to think of a better way to kick off a new era of Bulls basketball than with a new GM, new coach, and a number one overall pick.
For the Spurs, they’d still be in a great position to draft a high-quality role player with the Bulls pick. Chicago is likely to end up somewhere in the 7-9 range, a perfect spot to take a player like Devin Vassell or Isaac Okoro. Frankly, either one of those players might be better suited to the current makeup of the Spurs roster than one of the guards you typically see going at the top of the draft.
San Antonio would also get Lauri Markannen as a prize for pushing Chicago to the top. Markannen was impressive in his first two years with the Bulls but came back to earth in year three. He’d be a perfect floor-spacing threat for a team that is light on shooters. He was hitting on 36 percent of his three’s through his first two seasons, if he’s able to return to that level he’d be a strong complement to Poeltl and could play well in pick and pop situations with Derrick White and Dejounte Murray.
Next: Let's make some Magic happen
San Antonio Spurs can use the top pick to snag Aaron Gordon from Orlando
We’ve been proponents of the San Antonio Spurs trading for Aaron Gordon for a while now. If they’re lucky enough to get the number one overall pick they just might have the ammunition to pull a deal off.
Gordon is a hyper-athletic, all-around scoring threat who seems to have been in the league forever. But at 24 years old he’s right in the age range of the rest of the Spurs young core and could be the team’s long term solution at one of the forward spots.
It’s never been a question of Gordon’s talent. He can do mind-blowing things on the basketball court but he could really use a change of scenery. He’s been asked to do a lot in Orlando. With the Magic struggling to find reliable guard play, Gordon’s taken on playmaking duties that he shouldn’t have. In San Antonio, he could fil in as a rim runner, spot-up 3-point shooter, and rebounder. It’s a more limited role than the one he has now but it could ultimately lead to success.
This deal is contingent on DeMar DeRozan picking up his player option for the 2020-21 season but given his post-game comments after the Spurs final regular-season game it sounds like he intends on coming back to San Antonio. Pulling off a sign and trade to get him to Orlando could get him the long term deal he surely wants while also solving the Magic’s long-standing questions about the future of their backcourt.
With DeRozan and Markelle Fultz, the Magic would have the beginnings of an interesting backcourt. With the number one pick, they’d be able to choose between Edwards or Ball, depending on who they think would fit better with the two aforementioned players. In one summer they could turn their guards from a question mark to an area of strength.
Next: The home run swing
Could the San Antonio Spurs use the pick to acquire Ben Simmons?
Throughout their history, the San Antonio Spurs have avoided putting together huge trade packages to acquire stars. But if the ping pong balls end up landing in their favor they should at least consider calling the Philadelphia 76ers and seeing what it might take to get Ben Simmons out of Philly.
This by far the least likely of these trade scenarios. First off, we don’t even know if the Sixers would be willing to part with their prized superstar. There have been trade rumors swirling around him and Joel Embiid for a while now due to the pair’s perceived inability to mesh with each other on the court but that doesn’t mean that Philly is ready to pull the plug on the fruits of The Process quite yet.
For the sake of the argument, let’s say Simmons does become available. What does it take for San Antonio to bring him to the Alamo City?
Any deal that gets Simmons on the Spurs would almost certainly require that they give up two or more of the following players: Lonnie Walker, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, and Luka Samanic. Now, if you’re the Sixers, I think you eye White, Walker, and probably Johnson as well.
San Antonio would push back on sending three of the players just mentioned but if they could get away with trading just White, Walker, the number one overall pick in 2020, and another pick in 2021 that’s not deal they should turn away from.
These five guys are the core of the Spurs’ future but to be frank, we don’t know if anyone of them will end up being a top-20 player in the NBA at any point in their careers. White looked like he could be a consistent 20 point per game scorer in the bubble, Murray’s shown his two-way potential, and Johnson, Walker, and Samanic have all given us flashes of what they could become but not one of them can hold a candle to where Simmons is at just 23 years old.
If the San Antonio Spurs want to get back to the Finals and have a shot at capturing their sixth NBA title they’ll need a true superstar to help them get there. Simmons could be that guy. If somehow things fall into place and the Spurs have an opportunity to trade for him they can’t let that chance slip by.
Obviously none of this matters if the San Antonio Spurs don’t land the number one overall pick. The future of the Spurs will be a lot clearer after the NBA Draft lottery tomorrow night.