Our reactions to 3 recently proposed trades involving the San Antonio Spurs
The NBA has gotten to the point where it’s a 365 days a year sport. Whether your team is the San Antonio Spurs or one of the 29 others, you’ll never have to go a day without exciting, high-quality content of some kind.
Now we’re approaching one of the most fun times of the NBA year. In a normal year, the NBA Draft, free agency, and prime trade season are all relatively spaced out over the summer. But, and here’s my applicant for “no kidding” statement of the year, this has not been a normal year.
This year we’re going to see a condensed schedule the 2020 Draft and then, shortly after, jump headfirst into free agency, all in possibly the span of a month. The draft and the start of free agency are two of the biggest days of the year if you’re an NBA fan. Speculation is running wild, mock drafts and potential free agency pieces for every one of your favorite players are being published daily, life is good.
But free agency might be a bit duller this year than it has been in years past. With so much financial uncertainty, players with player options are likely to pick them up, lessening the number of stars hitting the open market. What follows could be a very busy trade season.
With an active trade season comes an even more active hypothetical trade content season. The folks over at Bleacher Report are hopping right in, recently publishing one potential trade for every NBA team, several of which involved the San Antonio Spurs. Here are our grades for each one.
Next: Derrick White goes home
San Antonio Spurs send Derrick White back to Denver for…almost nothing
Look I get it, sometimes it’s getting close to your deadline and you just want to get something published but really, is this the best that they could’ve come up with? All the Bleacher Report staff had to do was ask one Spurs fan, just one single fan, if this deal made sense and they would’ve gotten an earful on how utterly absurd this is.
Derrick was the Spurs best player in the bubble, showed off an absolute flamethrower from behind the arc, and finally got a chance to get extended minutes with Dejounte Murray. And you think the Spurs are just going to throw that away for a chance to draft another role player, a small forward who can’t shoot three’s, and a backup point guard?! Respectfully, get the hell out of here.
White is on his way to becoming one of the best two-way guards in the league. That’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact. Over his final stretch in Orlando, White averaged 18.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. And he did that while averaging under 30 minutes per game with a usage rate that compares more to Otto Porter than it does to the caliber of guards that he’s capable of joining.
The rationale behind this trade was that if the Spurs are going for a rebuild then recouping a first-round pick and two young players isn’t a bad return for a player. Maybe in other years that would be true but you’re not going to find anyone with the 22nd pick who is as good as White and Bates-Diop and Morris don’t come close.
Yes, White is approaching free agency and needs to be paid. But that’s a price the Spurs should be happy to pay. He’s still a long way from reaching his ceiling, no way the Spurs let him go.
Trade Grade: D-
Next: Not the deal with Portland you'd expect
The San Antonio Spurs send DeMar DeRozan, not LaMarcus Aldridge, to Rip City
We’ve published a few hypothetical trade deals of our own involving the San Antonio Spurs and the Portland Trail Blazers but most of those have involved LaMarcus Aldridge, not DeMar DeRozan. Seeing DeRozan included in a deal with Portland is interesting, to say the least.
The same rationale we had for our deal that sent LaMarcus to his former team for almost the exact same package applies here – it’s not a bad deal, but not without risk for the Spurs. Zach Collins is immensely talented but he’s suffered injuries in every season he’s played in the NBA so far. Meanwhile, Rodney Hood is coming off of a torn Achilles. Like Collins, Hood is a solid player but you have to worry about anyone’s ability to fully recover from an injury like that.
There is the slight hiccup of overloading the Spurs frontcourt with Collins and Ariza. It would likely only be for one year as Aldridge is approaching unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2021 but the Spurs also have Trey Lyles, Jakob Poeltl, and Luka Samanic to worry about allotting minutes for.
The biggest question here has to be why would the Blazers go for DeRozan when they could have Aldridge? Without Hassan Whiteside leaving, they’re going to need more depth up front, LaMarcus already has a good relationship with Damian Lillard, and the Blazers have Gary Trent to help bring the scoring and playmaking that DeRozan would provide.
It’s not a bad deal by any means, there are just better ones that could be made between these two squads.
Trade Grade: B-
Next: Working with the in-state rivals
LaMarcus Aldridge heads to his hometown team thanks to the San Antonio Spurs
After playing the last five years with the San Antonio Spurs, this hypothetical trade sends LaMarcus Aldridge back to his hometown team to serve as Luka Doncic’s running mate with the Dallas Mavericks.
None of the players that the San Antonio Spurs would receive from the Mavericks pop off the page at you but they are all solid players who would really help fill out San Antonio’s frontcourt. I actually really like this deal for San Antonio.
Maxi Kleber would give the Spurs a versatile option to either start with Jakob Poeltl or replace him if he leaves in free agency. Kleber has been used primarily as a backup in his time in Dallas but he could be ready for a larger role. He likely wouldn’t be the deciding factor in too many Spurs games but he’s a solid rebounder and defender who also knocked down 37 percent of his behind the arc looks this season.
Like the deal with Portland, this one also has a bit of risk with it. Dwight Powell ruptured his Achilles in late January and likely won’t be ready to play until late into the season. And as an athletic rim running center, there are concerns about his ability to regain his form.
With Justin Jackson, it’s more about unlocking his potential. He was a 37 percent 3-point shooter with UNC but hasn’t been able to replicate that success at the next level. He’d likely benefit from some time with Chip Engelland but it’d still be something to give the Spurs pause.
Kleber and the 18th overall pick are the big prizes from this trade. At 18 the Spurs would be in a position to take a plug and play wing such as Josh Green, Saddiq Bey, or Robert Woodard. This would give them the room to take a risk at 11 and go after a higher risk prospect like Patrick Williams if that’s something they want to do. Alternatively, they could package the two together in pursuit of another first-round pick in 2021.
Trade Grade: B
These aren’t the first trade proposals we’ve seen for the San Antonio Spurs and they certainly won’t be the last. This is a great time to be an NBA fan and the trade coverage is only going to continue to heat up as we get deeper into the offseason.