February 23, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) talks to guard Andrew Wiggins (22) during the third quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Could the San Antonio Spurs make a move to get to the top of the board?
Even before the results of the draft lottery were announced there was a sneaking suspicion that we might see a lot of movement in the upper areas of this year’s NBA Draft. There’s going to be plenty of talent available when the San Antonio Spurs are on the clock for the 11th pick but there could be a real window for them to move up.
A lot of different factors play into what seems like a greater than normal willingness from teams to trade out of their top-three picks. A lighter than usual free agent group, an uncertain salary cap situation, and a draft class that is heavier on quality role players than it is on legitimate star prospects are all influencing team’s decisions.
After an incredibly down season, and with another one potentially on the way, the San Antonio Spurs could be looking to go for a full-scale rebuild rather than a middle of the road approach that keeps them near playoff contention like they were last year.
If San Antonio wants to tear things down and start fresh, trading off veterans for a shot at moving into the top-two of the 2020 NBA Draft might not be a bad place to start. But do they have the assets to make it possible?
Next: Going for the top pick
Nov 27, 2019; San Antonio, TX, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) in the second half of the game at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Could the San Antonio Spurs trade for the number one overall pick?
Minnesota sports fans are some of the most tortured in the country. Over the last decade, they’ve had to deal with consistent disappointment from every team not named the Lynx or the Whitecaps. It was nice to see them get the number one overall pick, but will they hold on to it?
The Timberwolves did make an aggressive trade to add D’Angelo Russell to complement Karl-Anthony Towns but will it be enough to get them into the playoffs in the ever brutal Western Conference? Maybe not. And if they keep heading back to the lottery season after season how long will KAT and D-Lo want to stick around?
These are the questions that could lead the Wolves to trade out of the pick in search of a more established superstar who can help them win now. There’s a way that the Spurs could send an immediately impactful veteran to the Wolves but it’s unlikely that Minnesota would bite.
James Johnson has a nearly $16 million dollar player option with the Wolves that he can, and likely will, pick up. That creates the salary necessary to move LaMarcus Aldridge to Minnesota. Add in a pick swap for the 11th and 1st overall picks and you could have the makings of a deal.
It works on paper but frankly, I don’t see the Wolves going for it. They’re thinking about the next five to ten years of their franchise, adding a 35-year-old center on an expiring deal doesn’t really help with that, no matter how good he is.
If the Wolves were to agree to such a deal, amazing. That’d be a huge win for the Spurs. But don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen. Unless San Antonio convinces a third team to get involved it’s unlikely that they can find a way to trade into the number one pick.
Next: Trading with Golden State
March 1, 2020; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Andrew Wiggins (22) dribbles the basketball during the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards at Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Would the Warriors be interested in what the San Antonio Spurs can offer?
Like the Wolves, the Golden State Warriors are also rumored to be interested in trading out of their high draft pick. They just endured the second-worst season in franchise history but don’t mistake that for weakness. This team is ready to contend for another championship.
Warriors fans and Bay Area beat writers will tell you that the team’s going to use its second overall pick to trade for Giannis Antetokounmpo but don’t believe it. The Bucks aren’t trading Giannis this summer. It’s far more likely that the Warriors package their pick and other assets for stars a few tiers below Giannis who can still help them win now.
If there’s one thing that the Warriors should have learned from the Finals it’s that they desperately need to add size. Draymond Green is still a strong defender and Marquees Chriss shows potential but neither one of them is matching up with Bam Adebayo or Anthony Davis in a seven-game series and coming away as the winner.
Trading for Aldridge and Rudy Gay brings two established veterans to Golden State who are hungry for a ring and can give the Warriors the versatility they need in the frontcourt. Respect to the Golden State young guys but you want veterans playing heavy minutes in the playoffs, not players whose only NBA experience thus far has come on a 15-win team.
Using a trade to acquire forwards would also preserve the Warriors mid-level exception that they could then use on a wing such as Rodney Hood or Jae Crowder. If the Warriors can add Aldridge, Gay, and another veteran wing they’ll be right back into the driver’s seat as one of the teams favored to win the 2021 NBA Championship.
For San Antonio, this deal unloads salary and veterans, brings in a young and still promising talent in Andrew Wiggins, and gets them the second overall pick in the draft. Not a bad start to a rebuild.
Both the Warriors and the Wolves are more interested in winning now than they are picking a player who can help them a few years down the road. The San Antonio Spurs should pounce on that feeling and try to use it to move into the top-two and pick the next great Spurs star.