Laying Out the Trade
The details of the hypothetical deal are fairly straightforward. San Antonio would send Khem Birch to the Blazers for Jusuf Nurkic, creating a $16.2 million trade exception for Portland in the process. This is far from the worst swap for the Spurs, but it is certainly one-sided in favor of their conference foes.
While Khem Birch adds almost no value to a rebuilding team, the Blazers could waive him and face no long-term financial repercussions since he is entering the last season of his three-year contract. The 30-year-old rim runner does the Spurs no good warming the end of the bench. Nevertheless, there is no reason for them to be in a rush to rid themselves of the veteran for a lackluster return.
Nurkic might sound like the big body San Antonio is searching for, but his name carries more cachet than the realistic production he might offer the Spurs. The 6-foot-11 center has missed 157 out of a possible 310 games over the previous four seasons, and several lower extremity injuries have sapped his already limited mobility. He has some juice left on offense, but his defense is a serious concern.