Jan 16, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Jakob Poeltl (25) and guard DeMar DeRozan (10) pressure Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) at the American Airlines Center. (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Considering it’ll be a hot trade market this offseason, the San Antonio Spurs need to key in on some potential fits in a robust trade market.
Like many people, the San Antonio Spurs have become too comfortable in their relationships with their players. Things are going okay and these faces have become familiar, but the spark is gone and the connection is fizzling out. They could, as they did this year, settle for players they know aren’t ‘the ones‘ in fear of breaking up something that’s stable and dependable. However, the relationship is no longer good for them and it’s time to move on after giving it a good try.
Okay, I didn’t mean for this to become an episode of The Bachelor — Let’s get serious. After missing the postseason for the first time in 22 years, the San Antonio Spurs have to know that this group isn’t the one that’ll get them back to former glory. Some of the pieces are capable of reaching that stature but for the time being, they need to take a long look in the mirror.
According to @BobbyMarks42 on a look at free agency and the trade market this offseason;
“This is not a market to be a free agent…The trade market will actually become the free-agent market as far how much movement I think is going to wind up happening.”
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) October 15, 2020
Are these players whose fit in a San Antonio Spurs uniform makes sense in the longterm? For many of them, the answer is no. This is why they need to make their presence felt in what’s suspected to be an engaging trade market this offseason. Their plethora of veterans may not be the shiniest, most exciting names on the table, but most teams aren’t reasonably going to trade for a star player.
As a matter of fact, most teams are not going to walk away from this offseason with a new star. That’s not what the Spurs are aiming for with a more reasonable and self-contained approach over the years. These players who may become available this offseason might be a better fit for the team than those currently eating up minutes.
Next: Jrue Holiday
Nov 22, 2017; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday (11) is introduced at the Smoothie King Center before a game against the San Antonio Spurs. (Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports)
Jrue Holiday fits the San Antonio Spurs’ culture and needs.
Trading for New Orleans Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday isn’t going to be easy. Suitors from near and far are trying to lure Holiday from New Orleans, where he’s resided and remained the NBA’s best-kept secret over the last seven seasons. During that time, he’s averaged 17.6 points, 6.8 assists and a steal and a half while doing everything in his power to will his team to victory.
Beyond the fact that he’s a humble player with a team-first mentality, Holiday brings a lot of skills to the table that this Spurs team needs. First and foremost, Holiday’s two-way presence remains one of the most influential in basketball. His two All-Defensive selections don’t do justice to his perennial stature as one of the league’s most impactful defenders.
On the ball, Holiday anticipates opposing ball-handlers’ actions with a keen sense of direction and a basketball IQ that proves his years of service as a pro. He’ll get in your jersey on jumpers without fouling very often, putting his matchup in uncomfortable positions throughout the contest. Having that kind of impactful perimeter defender would help San Antonio shift its defensive woes.
Beyond that, he provides a go-to point guard who can make plays and facilitate the offense, taking the load off of DeMar DeRozan in the process. With a player option after next season, Holiday’s on a short-term deal and can help the Spurs transition into their next era while helping them compete immediately.
Next: Jrue Holiday
Nov 22, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) shoots against the San Antonio Spurs during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
The San Antonio Spurs can help Tobias Harris ascend.
Playing as the third man up in a hectic Philadelphia 76ers situation had made Tobias Harris little more than an overpaid role player. The team doesn’t rely on him to do anything in particular besides play within the flow of the offense and grab some rebounds here and there. However, Harris is best utilized when a system caters to his skill set without putting too much emphasis on making him their star.
San Antonio has options all around who can impact the game and Gregg Popovich’s ideal style of play would benefit Harris. Crisp ball movement, methodical and cohesive defense sprinkled with a bit of off-ball trickery would be the perfect complements for Harris’ game. Though he’s vastly overpaid, the San Antonio Spurs have more cap space than any other team beyond next season.
Not only does he fill a position of need with a modern, versatile player, but his role can change with the times as well. Harris can perform well with a decent bit of volume but doesn’t need it to compete. Of course, his infringement on the team’s cap will certainly put a dent in their ability to chase stars, but Harris makes a lot of sense for a team grooming its young core.
We saw this in his run with the LA Clippers, who featured him as a borderline all-star playing for a playoff team as the group transitioned. Had that franchise not committed to pursuing a former Spurs Finals MVP and a man who goes by the name ‘Pandemic P’, they’d be using Harris in a similar role to this day.
Next: Julius Randle
Nov 23, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) shoots the ball over San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge (12) during the 2nd half at Madison Square Garden. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
No team could maximize the Julius Randle experience like the San Antonio Spurs
Some may criticize players who accept contracts to play for the New York Knicks, but I vehemently disagree. There’s no franchise more willing to overextend themselves contractually to bring in B-list players. However, signing big man Julius Randle to a three-year, $63 million deal was far from the worst decision they made last offseason.
There’s reason to believe that New York is open for business considering it swung on low-risk free agents after striking out during last year’s offseason. They already shipped off their best-performing addition, Marcus Morris Sr., during the season for a late first-round pick. Randle isn’t exactly young anymore at 25-years-old and doesn’t align with their new timeline with high lottery picks stacking up on the roster.
? KNICKS FILM SCHOOL
With Julius Randle as a passer at the elbow, the Knicks were able to create offense using Mitch as a screener pic.twitter.com/9znveQ2dvZ
— Daily Knicks (@DailyKnicksFS) June 7, 2020
San Antonio would make good use of the stocky forward in extracting his talent and hiding his deficiencies. Randle wasn’t much of a defender in this past season with the Knicks and never played with a defensive-minded team before. His Los Angeles Lakers tenure was a bit of a trainwreck, the stint in New Orleans was shrouded by AD’s holdout and this season in New York might as well have been a throw-away year.
There’s a reason why Randle was selected seventh in 2014 and earned a sizable contract during the offseason. In his last two seasons, Randle scored 20.5 points per game with 9.2 rebounds and a noteworthy 3.1 assists. He’s got untapped potential as a secondary creator, interior scorer and would bring a tremendous effort to the Spurs’ mediocre group of rebounders.
Plus, trading for him shouldn’t break the bank.
Next: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Jan 24, 2020; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Phoenix Suns forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (3) yells on defense in the first half against the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center. (Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports)
Do the San Antonio Spurs need Kelly Oubre Jr. more than the Phoenix Suns?
One of the more compelling aspects of the Phoenix Suns’ perfect 8-0 stretch in the Orlando restart is the fact that they did it without Kelly Oubre Jr., who’s ostensibly their third-best player. Now entering the final year of his deal in the Valley of the Sun, Oubre brings a high-powered defensive intensity that matches his undeniable swagger.
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Much of Oubre’s success has been despite his circumstances as he began his career in Washington and moved onto the Suns in a pre-Monty Williams landscape. Now, oddly enough, his numbers dipped when Williams implemented a more up-tempo “.5 offense” that’s rooted in many ways in the Spurs’ beautiful basketball style from 2014.
However, these aren’t those Spurs anymore and they need to worry about talent as much as they need to focus on perfecting the system. As we’ve learned, a system cannot properly operate without the right personnel and there’s significant evidence to suggest that Oubre can be the guy San Antonio needs to turn things around.
He’s spent more time at the four in his last two seasons, which opens up a world of potential for a fit with the Spurs. Oubre is a great compliment for the array of slashers for his excellent off-ball motion and ability to knock down spot-up jumpers when given enough space and time to get it off.
Since he’s on an expiring deal, chances are the Suns will at least be open to a conversation.