The San Antonio Spurs have uncharacteristically been at the center of trade rumors lately, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything will happen. The latest rumor was that the Spurs, among several other teams, have trade interest in Nikola Vucevic of the Orlando Magic.
This isn’t the first time this season the Spurs have been mentioned in trade talks. A few weeks ago, Miami was reportedly interested in trading for Rudy Gay, but those talks have since died down.
As fun as being apart of trade rumors can be, it’s probably best Spurs fans keep their expectations low, at least for the rest of this season. There are many reasons there won’t be any midseason trades for the Silver and Black, but here are a few of the biggest ones.
The San Antonio Spurs are exceeding expectations
Right before the All-Star break last year, the Spurs found themselves in unfamiliar territory, eight games under .500. This year, to our pleasant surprise, the Spurs have put together a great start to the season, finding themselves four games over .500 at 18-14, putting them at seventh in the Western Conference and just a game and a half out of fifth.
Most of the talk going into the season was about whether or not the Spurs would move veterans like LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, and Gay, but instead, the talk was when they would move them. All signs pointed to the team struggling before the All-Star break and thus officially selling all, if not most of their veterans to contenders to get as much value as possible for them in return.
Thanks to some stellar play from DeRozan, Dejounte Murray, and a few others, the Spurs have found the perfect balance of developing young talent while remaining a competitive, playoff-hunting team. However, they only find themselves in seventh place in the ever-so-stacked West.
Less than two games behind fifth place and five games ahead of eleventh, it might still seem wise to get as much value back as possible for the veterans who will be off the books after this season is over.
Some contenders would love to add veteran pieces to help aid them in a title hunt. For the Spurs, however, that is not how they operate. Their goal remains to be a competitive playoff team in the West until they can get back to being a consistent title contender. Exceeding expectations so far this season has only solidified that. It is very likely the Spurs will hunker down and get the most out of the current group.
Next: What a move now would mean financially
It doesn’t make financial sense for the San Antonio Spurs to make a move
Just about everyone knows the financial situation the Spurs will find themselves in this offseason. For those who don’t, here’s a summary. They will have all four veteran contracts off the books with a lot of cap space to work with. With DeMar playing at a crazy high level all year, the front office will probably look to resign him on a team-friendly deal to continue to be the centerpiece of a very young and talented Spurs team.
With pretty much every young player signed on through the next few seasons, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to swing for the fences right now when the Spurs will be one of the few teams in a position to sign any free agent to a max deal next offseason. If Mills and Gay keep their stellar play up, they may return on very team-friendly, short-term deals. One could argue that the Spurs are just one piece (preferably an athletic big man) away from reaching the next level.
Any deal the Spurs make would likely have to include draft compensation, especially for a player like Vucevic. It doesn’t seem smart for the team to mortgage their future to win now when they are already doing that while setting themselves up to be in a good position for the future.
Next: An aging vet is not the answer
San Antonio Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge has little-to-no trade value
Probably the Spur being shopped the most right now, if any, is LaMarcus Aldridge. At the same time, he probably has the lowest trade value of anyone on the team. Statistically, he is putting up some of the worst numbers of his career since his rookie year, including points, minutes, shooting percentage, rebounds, and field goals attempted.
Turning 36 this year and making $24 million on an expiring deal, most teams are going to stay away from him at the trade deadline.
The only scenario where he could be traded that seems plausible could be a deal that sends him to Boston. Given their $28 million trade exception, the Spurs could essentially send him to Boston for just a few draft picks. Even though this scenario could be the most likely, it probably won’t happen. The Spurs will probably continue to try to get the most possible out of their seven-time All-Star in his new role coming off the bench.
LaMarcus has been a great Spur and has been extremely underrated. Excluding this year, he’s had a fantastic career as a Spur. Yes, it has been riddled with ups and downs. Still, he’s also put up incredible numbers and made three All-Star teams and had two All-NBA selections. He also practically singlehandedly carried the Spurs to the playoffs in 2018, when he finished in the top 10 in MVP voting.
All that being said, his value has diminished this year. Unless the Spurs will be willing to take on some serious lowball offers from teams, LaMarcus will probably remain a Spur until the season is over, when he can go anywhere he wants in free agency to finish out his career.
It’s not like a trade being made before the deadline is impossible, but given the current circumstances, it’s extremely unlikely. Hopefully, the Spurs will be able to survive the much more brutal second half of their schedule and get back in the playoffs this May.