Mar 1, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Landry Shamet (20) shoots over San Antonio Spurs center LaMarcus Aldridge (12) at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Here is who the San Antonio Spurs need to avoid in any deal for Aldridge
Normally San Antonio Spurs fans can check out around the trade deadline and not have to worry about missing anything groundbreaking. San Antonio has rarely made moves during the season which makes this year’s change so shocking.
Last week, Gregg Popovich announced that the Spurs would try to trade LaMarcus Aldridge before the March 25th deadline. LaMarcus has been a crucial part of the Spurs’ success since he joined the team in 2015 but his time in San Antonio has come to an end.
Since the news broke, we’ve seen hundreds of different proposed trades. Most of them involve one of the teams widely rumored to be interested in Aldridge such as the Celtics and Heat but other teams have been included as well.
The Spurs won’t be able to command too much in return for the former All-Star but they should be focusing on getting back young players and picks. But they’re likely going to have to take on veteran players as well if only to make the salaries work.
Here are the players that the San Antonio Spurs need to avoid in any trade for LaMarcus Aldridge.
Next: Tristan Thompson
Feb 24, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15) and Boston Celtics forward Tristan Thompson (13) go after a rebound during the first half at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs should avoid Tristan Thompson in a trade with Boston
The Boston Celtics are one of the teams that have been consistently mentioned as having an interest in Aldridge. They’ve been one of the most underwhelming teams in the NBA this season and while they are fifth in the Eastern Conference they’ve also struggled to remain over .500 and haven’t looked at like the title contender many thought they could be.
One area where the Celtics have struggled all season is rebounding, particularly on the defensive end of the floor. And although he has lost a step on defense, Aldridge could at least help the Celtics close out possessions by committing himself to tracking down rebounds on that end.
The Celtics wouldn’t need to move Tristan Thompson in a deal for Aldridge but they could if they’re having second thoughts about adding him this offseason. In his recent recap of trade news, Yahoo’s Chris Haynes indicated that the Celtics could move Thompson before the deadline. He might be on the move.
If the Spurs are in talks with Boston they should be focused on getting one of the Celtics’ younger wings in return rather than Thompson. Either one of Aaron Nesmith or Romeo Langford could be an interesting addition to the Spurs. That’s where the Spurs should have their attention focused.
Adding Thompson wouldn’t be the worst result. He’s strong on the offensive glass and his contract isn’t too expensive and doesn’t go too much longer. He could be a serviceable backup to Jakob Poeltl but he’s certainly not a player the Spurs should be targeting in talks with Boston.
Next: Most of Miami's offer
Feb 26, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) gets fouled by Miami Heat forward KZ Okpala (4) as forward Kelly Olynyk (9) looks on during the play in the third quarter at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
San Antonio Spurs shouldn’t want any of what the Heat have to offer
Earlier this week, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported that the Miami Heat have offered Avery Bradley, Maurice Harkless, and Meyers Leonard to the Spurs in order to match the salary they would have to take on in with Aldridge. Scotto also noted that Miami would have to likely include a young player such as KZ Okpala or Chris Silva and draft assets.
Of all of the players mentioned, Okpala and Silva are the only two the Spurs should be interested in acquiring. They can trade for the others sure but I hope they have additional deals set up afterwords or are okay with waiving most of them.
The Spurs backcourt is already very full. When they’re fully healthy the Spurs have a hard enough time finding minutes for promising rookies like Devin Vassell and Tre Jones. They certainly don’t need to add the often injured Bradley to that mix.
Harkless could be an interesting addition but at the cost of taking up minutes that could be given to someone who needs more playing time such as Luka Samanic. I suspect it’s going to be hard for Leonard to find a new team after his time in Miami is up. Maybe he’ll stay in the NBA but it shouldn’t be with the Spurs.
Trading Aldridge to Miami could be worth it if it nets the Spurs one of Silva or Okpala and a second-round pick. The others should be flipped for additional draft picks or waived if San Antonio can’t find a taker.
Next: Nerlens Noel
Mar 2, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV (1) dribbles the ball against New York Knicks center Nerlens Noel (3) in the first half at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
New York Knicks have other players the Spurs should be interested in
The Knicks haven’t been linked to Aldridge in any rumors since the news broke last week but they seem like they’d be a good fit. They’ve got expiring contracts to make a deal work and young players to get the Spurs interested. LaMarcus seems like the kind of playoff-tested veteran that Tom Thibodeau would love coaching and one that could help the Knicks in the surprise push for homecourt advantage in the playoffs.
The Knicks do have some older players who could help the Spurs. Alec Burks could bring some perimeter shooting, the same with Reggie Bullock. But one veteran the Spurs should ignore in any potential deal with New York is Nerlens Noel.
Nothing against Noel, he’s just not what the Spurs need right now. They’ve already got a rim-protecting inside man in Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks fills a similar role off the bench. Adding Noel into the frontcourt would just be redundant at this point.
None of these veterans would be that target of a deal with New York, ideally, that would be Kevin Knox. But other players would have to be included in order to make it work. Of the possible players who could be included, Noel should be last on the Spurs list.
The closer we get to the trade deadline the tenser this situation gets. But the San Antonio Spurs hardly ever let the news get ahead of them. Whenever we do hear of a trade involving Aldridge it’ll probably come directly from Popovich himself. If that happens let’s hope none of these players are involved.