The San Antonio Spurs should trade up to go after the former USC big man
As fate would have it, the San Antonio Spurs are lottery-bound in what the experts are calling a draft class sparse on top-level talent. After making the playoffs for 22 straight years it’s hard for any Spurs fan to complain but this is not the best time to be back in the top-14.
Still, there are plenty of good players in the lottery who could be excellent fits for the Spurs. With their backcourt already filled out with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker, it’s time for San Antonio to look to add some youth on the wings or in their frontcourt.
There are a few names that immediately come to mind when thinking about who might be available for the Spurs at pick 11. Devin Vassell is one player that many Spurs fans would love to have and Patrick Williams is another intriguing prospect.
If the Spurs aren’t locked into picking 11th they could think about moving up. It likely wouldn’t cost them too much and there are players near the top of the draft who would make it worth it. Oyneka Okongwu is one of those guys.
After an impressive year for USC, Okongwu is viewed by many as a top-ten pick, with most mock drafts having him off the board somewhere between the fifth and eighth pick. Here are four ways the Spurs could move up into that range to select the versatile big man.
Next: Getting to six
San Antonio Spurs move DeMar DeRozan to Atlanta for 6th pick
Coming into the 2019-20 season there was some talk of the Atlanta Hawks making a playoff run. After Trae Young‘s stellar rookie season expectations were riding high but unfortunately the Hawks were unable to live up to them.
If the Hawks are serious about making the playoffs this year they could be interested in acquiring DeMar DeRozan from the Spurs. He wouldn’t solve their defensive issues but it’s hard to see a team led by DeRozan, Young, John Collins, and Clint Capela missing out on the playoffs in the East.
For San Antonio, this pick gets them in a position to add Okongwu and also clears off some salary while making room for younger guys to take on a more prominent role. We saw DeRozan act as a power forward in the bubble but with LaMarcus Aldridge returning that trend is unlikely to continue.
That could push DeMar back into his normal role as the Spurs shooting guard/small forward. That would have a ripple effect of creating a minutes crunch on the young foursome of Murray, White, Walker, and Keldon Johnson, all of whom deserve to have sizeable roles for the Spurs this year.
Making this deal would signify a full-scale rebuild for San Antonio. They’d be able to add a young and versatile big man in Okongwu while also creating the room in their lineups that their young players need to thrive.
Next: Movement in Motown
A San Antonio Spurs sign and trade that might be too good to be true
We’ve talked about why the San Antonio Spurs should go after Christian Wood and now we’re focusing on why they should be after Onyeka Okongwu, so what if I told you there was a way for them to get both?
A sign and trade deal involving Christian Wood, Rudy Gay, and DeMar DeRozan could be exactly what the Spurs need to pull off a sweeping rebuild in just a few moves.
This would quickly fill up the Spurs frontcourt with talent. If San Antonio can find a way to come into next season with LaMarcus Aldridge, Jakob Poeltl, Christian Wood, and Onyeka Okongwu all on their roster they’ll have a great frontcourt to pair with their deep backcourt.
For Detroit, this gives them the playmaker they desperately need. Derrick Rose filled that role for them this year but it’s unclear how long he’s going to be a Piston. There was substantial interest in him at the deadline this year and that’s likely to be the same this year.
Locking down DeRozan to pair with Blake Griffin, while only moving back four spots and picking up a nice second-round pick in the process gives Detroit the ammo to pick out the future of their team while simultaneously giving them established veterans to work with in the present.
Next: Moving into the top-five
San Antonio Spurs send LaMarcus Aldridge back to the team that drafted him
After being selected 2nd overall by the Chicago Bulls back in 2006, LaMarcus Aldridge is finally suiting up for the team that drafted him.
This deal sends LaMarcus and two first-round picks to the Bulls for Otto Porter and the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft.
For Chicago, this deal has multiple benefits. It brings in a seasoned veteran to help mentor Wendell Carter and Lauri Markkanen, swaps first-round picks this year, and also clears Otto Porter’s salary off their books. The salary swap between Porter and Aldridge is a near wash but their on-court production differs greatly.
Porter has appeared in just 29 games in his two seasons with the Bulls. Meanwhile, Aldridge has started more than 70 games in every season he’s been in San Antonio, with this year being the lone exception. If you’re going to pay a player north of $20 million a year wouldn’t you prefer to pay the one who actually plays?
For San Antonio, this gives them a chance to take Okongwu, or even Deni Avdija if he’s available, while also not hamstringing them for the future. Giving up the 2022 first-round pick would sting but if that’s the price it takes to bring in the fourth this year while also holding onto the first-round pick for the star-studded class of 2021 then it’s not a bad price to pay.
Each of these trades has it’s upsides and downsides but all of them would give the San Antonio Spurs to take their big man of the future.