How the Spurs can make out like bandits in a 3-team deal with the Hawks and Lakers

Gregg Popovich, Victor Wembanyama
Gregg Popovich, Victor Wembanyama / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

As we get closer and closer to the NBA trade deadline, the San Antonio Spurs will likely come up more in trade talks. In fact, they have already been linked to former Spur Dejounte Murray but he appears destined to be traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Despite that, the Spurs could still be involved in a trade for Murray, but as a third team. The Atlanta Hawks are unwilling to take back Lakers starting point guard D'Angelo Russell in a potential deal with another team having to take him. That potentially presents the Spurs with an opportunity to address their point guard issues while essentially getting paid to do so.

Why the Spurs should help out their former player and former rival.

Although the Spurs have gotten better point guard play of late with Tre Jones now starting and Blake Wesley providing good minutes, they could still use more help. Russell has played much better later, averaging 27 points over his last five games, likely spurred on by the rumors of an impending trade.

According to Marc Stein (subscription required), he is unlikely to decline his player option for next season, an interesting development since it would ensure that he remains with the Spurs beyond this season were they to acquire him. Jones has helped to stabilize the starting lineup and ensure that star Victor Wembanyama gets the ball. Even then, he isn't much of an offensive threat beyond a few drives per game.

Russell is a better offensive player since he can knock down threes both off the catch and off the dribble. He can also create as a passer in the pick-and-roll and has experience tossing lobs and finding cutters. Given his issues as a defensive player, he doesn't make a lot of sense for the Lakers, who have postseason ambitions, or for the Hawks, who have Trae Young. But for a rebuilding team in need of more offense and shot creation, he might be a good short-term option.

San Antonio will potentially have two top-10 picks in this year's NBA draft but even if they were to draft a guard, there is a high learning curve. Having multiple options is the best route for the Spurs and they could look at adding a point guard ahead of the trade deadline and being the team that takes back Russell would allow them to do just that.

A possible deal could see the Hawks acquire Jalen Hood-Schifino and Devonte Graham, the Lakers receive Murray and Cedi Osman, and the Spurs add Patty Mills, a 2025 second from the Clippers and a 2030 second from the Lakers. That deal would net San Antonio an upgrade at point guard for this season and next, two future seconds, and bring franchise legend Patty Mills home.

Were that to happen, that would be a worthwhile move that could help the Spurs not only in the short term but in the long term as well.