Aug 2, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, center, speaks with his players after an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
These three could be on the move if the San Antonio Spurs want to move up
The 2020 NBA Draft is going to be unlike any we’ve ever seen before. Teams are working through a new scouting process, will draft their players virtually, and will have less time than ever before to get them adjusted to their new lives before the start of next season. The San Antonio Spurs sure picked the perfect time to return to the lottery.
There’s are whole generations of Spurs fans who can’t remember the last time that they saw their team in the draft lottery. You have to go all the way back to 1997 to find a year where the Spurs picked higher than their 11th overall pick this year.
San Antonio lucked out and got to pick Tim Duncan the last time they were here but there’s a slim chance they find a player of that caliber in this class. But there are a few things they could do to improve their chances.
The San Antonio Spurs are already doing their due diligence on players who are projected to go in the top three. Could this signal a willingness to do what it takes to move up in the draft order?
Or even if they’re not looking to get into the top three, could San Antonio be eyeing a move to get back into the first round? They’ve had tremendous success drafting at the end of the first in previous years. Who’s to say they couldn’t find another undervalued gem in this draft class.
If the Spurs are thinking about making a draft-day trade here are a few players on their roster who can help make that happen.
Next: A veteran wing
Aug 5, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay (22) shoots against Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) during the first half of a NBA basketball game at Visa Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Trade Assets: Rudy Gay could interest contending teams
Unless the Golden State Warriors really, really like Rudy Gay the Spurs won’t be using him in a deal to get themselves into the top three. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t other interested parties around the league.
There was interest in Gay near this seasons’ trade deadline but the Spurs asking price was apparently too far away from what other teams were willing to give up for a deal to be found. Now that we’re closer to draft day maybe something has changed.
Looking into the final ten teams on the board you can find three or four potential suitors for Gay. The Nuggets, Jazz, 76ers, and Lakers could all conceivably be interested in the veteran forward.
Gay had an up and down year but in Orlando, with the Spurs seasons on the line, he was at his best. Over San Antonio’s final eight games of the season, Gay was averaging close to 18 points per contest while hitting 45.7 percent of his 3-point attempts. Pretty solid for a player who looked like a shadow of himself at times during the first part of the regular season.
Over those final eight games, Gay proved to every team in the league that he can be a valuable contributor on a playoff team. He’d be an ideal fit for someone on the Lakers or Nuggets who already have the bones of a championship squad in place but just need a few added pieces to round out their roster.
For San Antonio, it might be difficult to let go of a veteran like Gay who has been such a positive presence during his time with the team. But the Spurs need to be looking to the future and if they can flip Rudy for another first-round pick they’ve got to make it happen.
Next: A former All-Star
Feb 21, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) reacts a foul against Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) during the second quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Trade Assets: LaMarcus Aldridge opens a range of options
The possibility of moving on from LaMarcus Aldridge opens a world of potential for San Antonio. He’s going to draw more eyes than Rudy Gay but losing him wouldn’t gut the Spurs roster.
This year’s playoffs reiterated the importance of having strong big men on your roster. When teams like the Lakers went big in the playoffs, other teams were put on their heels and forced to adjust on the fly. And few had the big men they needed to stay with the Lakers supersized frontcourt.
The Mavericks, Celtics, and Trail Blazers could all be in play as destinations for Aldridge. Every one of those teams is poised to make a title push this year and each one could use a versatile big man like Aldridge to help them bring home a ring.
All three of those teams have picks in the 16-18 range that would be great for the Spurs to make a move for. Adding another pick just outside the lottery would give San Antonio the flexibility to make a riskier pick with their first choice and then go for one of the many safe bets in this draft class. Or if the Spurs wanted to get really ambitious they could try to package the two picks to move up even higher.
His All-Star days might be behind him but there’s no doubt that Aldridge can still play. He’s still as dangerous as he ever was in the mid-range and he showed off a new 3-pointer that this year that should have grabbed opponents’ attention. Adding a player like that in exchange for a mid-round pick and an asset is an absolute steal for whichever team wants to make a move for LaMarcus.
Next: A young wing or guard
Aug 5, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (foreground) and forward Keldon Johnson (3) and guard Derrick White (middle) talk as the leave the court at halftime of a NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets at Visa Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs Trade Assets: One of the young wings or guards
In mid-October, Zach Lowe predicted that teams around the league would approach the San Antonio Spurs about one of their young wings or guards.
“I know a lot of teams are going to call the Spurs about Derrick White, for instance. Because there’s this sense that there’s limited interest in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge and then there’s this sense that the Spurs have all these young guards and wings and they’re going to eventually trade one of them. So maybe I call about Derrick White and see if I can get him.”
But why don’t the Spurs flip the script and go to some of the teams near the top of the order to see if they can flip their 11th pick and one of their young guys for a top-three pick and maybe another player or pick down the road?
It almost seems like a dark, in-family secret that no one talks about but what if the Spurs group of guards and wings isn’t as good as we think they are? They’ve all shown flashes of potential for stretches at a time but none of them have put together weeks of All-Star level play yet.
Yes, many of them are still quite young and haven’t necessarily gotten the opportunity to show that they can play at that level. But are we sure that’s something that they’re capable of?
This isn’t a hit piece on the Spurs young guys, far from it. I think they’ve got loads of potential and fans should be excited about what’s to come. But I also think that if the Spurs can move one of them to move into the top-three then that’s a deal they have to make.
Having a shot at Deni Avdija or Anthony Edwards would be preferable but James Wiseman and Killian Hayes would be good additions as well. You’re telling me you wouldn’t trade anyone on the roster right now for a chance at one of those four? Please, get serious.
Don’t bet on the San Antonio Spurs making a draft-day trade but if they do you can be confident that one of these three will be involved.