The San Antonio Spurs pulled off their first significant trade deadline deal moments before the clock struck midnight on Wednesday, shipping Jakob Poeltl to the Toronto Raptors for Khem Birch, a 2024 first-round pick, and two future second-rounders.
Per usual, when it comes to breaking news encompassing transactions at the deadline, Shams and Woj compete to see who can fire out their tweet first and fill in the remaining details second. The dust has settled, and we now know the 2024 first-round pick is top-six protected, and the seconds are entirely unprotected.
This information should have the Spurs faithful commending another well-engineered maneuver from General Manager Brian Wright. The Raps have signaled a desire to remain competitive by green-lighting a win-now move for Poeltl. Even if they fall flat trying to become championship contenders in the process, it might take an implosion of massive proportions for them to slide to the bottom of the standings, virtually guaranteeing San Antonio walks away with their 2024 first-rounder.
As for the unprotected second-round selections, their label makes things self-explanatory. Those puppies belong to the Silver and Black, no matter where Toronto lands at the end of the season. That security is comforting for a rebuilding franchise, but feel free to root for the Raptors to fail. After all, the worse they are, the higher the pick.
San Antonio has countless second-rounders and a finite number of roster openings. What are they supposed to do? The draft and stash strategy is always an option, but the underrated value of these picks is the flexibility they afford the Spurs in the draft.
Playoff teams are often wary of dishing out guaranteed contracts to first-round rookies who may not be ready for a meaningful role right out of the gates. PATFO could swoop in with their overload of second-rounders and bundle them to trade back into the late first round, giving them a talented prospect they can potentially control for up to four seasons.
There are also whispers that San Antonio and Toronto are still considering expanding their trade before it becomes official with the league office. So what might that entail? According to Jake Fischer, the Spurs have interest in Dalano Banton. The 23-year-old point guard is a spellbinding project as a six-seven ball-handler with some defensive upside.
From practically every angle, the San Antonio Spurs are the winners in yet another calculated trade deadline transaction. And with under three hours until the doors slam shut on the busiest day of the NBA season, let's hope the good guys squeeze in another lucrative deal or two.