Grade the Mock Trade: Spurs take gamble on guard for long-term payoff

San Antonio Spurs v Detroit Pistons
San Antonio Spurs v Detroit Pistons / Mike Mulholland/GettyImages
3 of 3
Next Slide

Would The Spurs Say Yes?

Lonzo Ball has been the unfortunate victim of a minor meniscus tear that has spiraled from a routine arthroscopic procedure into a career-threatening injury after numerous complications have derailed his recovery. The 25-year-old has been out of commission since his initial diagnosis in 2022, and the situation only became more bleak when Shams Charania reported he might miss all of the upcoming season following a third surgery on his left knee.

Despite his circumstances, Ball was one of the most productive two-way players in the league before landing on the sidelines, averaging 13.0 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per game in his first go-round with the Bulls. Not only did Lonzo cover the best scorers while setting the table for Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan on a nightly basis, but he also nailed an astonishing 42.3% of his 260 three-point attempts through 35 appearances.

Gregg Popovich is trying to create a team full of positionless playmakers and switchable defenders, and Ball fits the bill. Forking over roughly $20 million for someone who might not return to the court until 2024 sounds ludicrous. But the disabled player exception would grant the Spurs permission to sign a Lonzo replacement for one season at half the rate of his annual salary while overseeing every last step of his rehab process.

Is there a possibility that Lonzo Ball fails to return to form after sitting out for over two seasons? Sure, but if there are no more obstacles in his comeback, the 6-foot-6 guard could be a perfect fit with San Antonio as a connective tissue facilitator, three-point shooter, and lockdown defender. And the future second-rounder from Chicago makes it worth it for the Spurs to pick up the phone and consider this theoretical trade proposal.

Grade: B-