Signed near the beginning of the 2019-20 season, Trey Lyles was an easy, low-risk addition for the San Antonio Spurs last year. He was coming to his third team in the league since being drafted in 2015 and there was hope that he could provide some valuable floor spacing ability off the bench.
It didn’t take long for Lyles to start making an impact with the Spurs. He was included in the opening day starting lineup and would go on to start in 53 games for San Antonio, more than he had in Utah and Denver combined.
After the All-Star break, Lyles took off last year. He averaged 12.6 points per game while shooting 49 percent from behind the arc. It was a small sample size – just nine games – but it did create optimism that Lyles would be able to mesh well with the faster-paced, drive-and-kick style of basketball that San Antonio leaned on so much in the Orlando Bubble.
It might seem harsh to say that optimism was misplaced but Lyles hasn’t lived up to it this season. He’s appeared in just 22 of the Spurs 40 games thus far and is averaging under 16 minutes of playing time per contest when he does play. It is this lack of playing time that could be contributing to his desire to play for another team.
Trey Lyles and his representation want to move on from the San Antonio Spurs
In a recap of what league sources are saying as we approach the trade deadline, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer included this nugget.
“Multiple league sources mentioned Trey Lyles and his representatives are interested in a new destination for the 25-year-old forward”
Now it’s not a formal trade request but it sounds like Lyles is looking for a new team to play for, and who could blame him?
We’ve seen snippets of Luka Samanic this season and it’s been enough to excite Spurs fans and reinforce the hope we had for the “Croatian Kevin Durant” when he tore up the G-League earlier this year. The rebounding ability and physicality of Keldon Johnson adds another option for the Spurs in the frontcourt. And we’ve barely just begun to scratch the surface of what Devin Vassell is capable of.
All of this combines to make the prospect of Lyles returning to the starting lineup a slim one. He might not even be able to crack the rotation for the rest of the year. Knowing that, it’s hard to have an issue with him wanting to play for a different team.
Lyles is going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer and without consistent playing time, it’s going to be a challenge for him to prove to teams around the league that he deserves another contract. This desire to move on from the team could be just as much about his ability to earn that new contract as it is to get playing time in the near term.
The San Antonio Spurs aren’t going to trade him away for a sandwich and a bag of chips but I don’t expect their asking price on Lyles to be all that high. He hasn’t done much for them this season and if there’s no real desire to have him around for the foreseeable future it would be wise to get draft picks or a development project type of player in return for him.