In a recent article citing the top trade targets for each team, B/R suggested that the Phoenix Suns go after San Antonio Spurs forward Trey Lyles.
We previously discussed a Bleacher Report article with what they perceived to be the perfect trade target for every NBA team. For the San Antonio Spurs, the suggested target was Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon. That was an interesting thought to ponder, but it wasn’t the only mention of the San Antonio Spurs in that article.
B/R’s Andy Bailey also suggested that the Phoenix Suns target San Antonio Spurs forward Trey Lyles in a trade. A 6-foot-9 forward with underrated mobility and floor-stretching ability, Lyles had the best season of his career in San Antonio. Before his season was ended by a bout with appendicitis, Lyles averaged 6.4 points and a career-best 5.7 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.
Over the course of the season, Lyles became increasingly comfortable in the Spurs’ system, increasing his scoring average to 11.4 points on 51.1 percent from the floor and 48.4 percent from deep starting in February. This hot streak coincided with a plethora of injuries to the Spurs’ frontcourt, forcing Lyles into heavier minutes and more shot attempts than before.
So why might the San Antonio Spurs trade him to the Phoenix Suns?
Lyles can be trade fodder for the San Antonio Spurs if it comes down to it.
In many regards, Lyles was only supposed to be an auxiliary piece for this San Antonio Spurs lineup. The expectation was that Marcus Morris Sr. would be the team’s starting power forward for a while on a two-year contract. Then, when his time was up, the San Antonio Spurs would likely turn those minutes over to their NBA Draft prospect, Luka Samanic.
The same applies now to Lyles, except the Spurs’ youth movement has accelerated. The young Spurs took over in Orlando and there’s a moderate expectation that it’ll remain the same when the team returns for the 2020-21 NBA season. If that’s the case, the need for Lyles as a bridge between the past and future doesn’t carry as much weight.
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Meanwhile, the Phoenix Suns sit one spot ahead of the Spurs in the NBA Draft standings with the tenth pick. Back in 2018, we saw the LA Clippers give up two second-round picks to move up one spot with the Charlotte Hornets and draft Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. If the San Antonio Spurs find that they need to move up a spot to secure their guy, Lyles should be the sweetener needed to get the deal done.
In another context, Lyles could be part of a move for small forward Kelly Oubre Jr., who’s on an expiring one-year deal. If the Suns decide that Oubre won’t be a part of their future, San Antonio would be a viable destination for the two-way impact player. Meanwhile, the Suns would be reuniting college teammates in Lyles and star Devin Booker.
Beyond that aspect of it, Lyles is a great complement to Deandre Ayton at the center position with his floor spacing and active feet on defense.
The only reason to make this trade is if the San Antonio Spurs can get something important in return, but the fact remains that every trade possibility needs to be considered. Lyles was great in his first year with the team and he’d be welcomed back with open arms by the organization, but he’s not a necessity moving forward.
If the San Antonio Spurs make a move this offseason, having Lyles involved would make sense.