Is trading Keldon Johnson the answer for the struggling Spurs?

The San Antonio Spurs are among the worst teams in the NBA but are reportedly shopping Keldon Johnson. But will that help right the ship?
Keldon Johnson
Keldon Johnson / Carmen Mandato/GettyImages

With the San Antonio Spurs in the middle of a franchise-record losing streak, the team has looked to shake things up in hopes of getting back on track. They have shuffled their lineup, including moving Victor Wembamyama over to the center position, but they are reportedly considering more drastic options, according to reports from The Athletic's Marc Spears.

The timing is interesting since Johnson has played well of late, including setting a season-high in scoring against the Los Angeles Lakers with 28 points. He's a ball of energy and the most vocal player on the team—good things for a struggling Spurs.

Still, he is just 24 and in year one of a cheap contract that pays him less than $20 million over the next three seasons. Teams will likely look to poach him from the Spurs, and he may not have a role on the team going forward.

After all, San Antonio could have two lottery picks in the 2024 NBA draft, and they may select another small forward who could eventually replace Johnson. Even if they don't draft a three, moving on from Johnson before the trade deadline could prove beneficial to the team in the long run.

Why the Spurs should consider moving Keldon Johnson

With the cap rising immensely in the next couple of seasons, teams could use a young player such as Johnson with upside who is relatively cheap. They may also be willing to pony up a lot of assets to do so.

If that is the case, then San Antonio's asking price for Johnson should be two first-round picks. That may seem steep, but there is a chance a team is willing to pay that price, provided the Spurs can potentially take back a long-term salary to give them more bang for their buck.

The Spurs already have plenty of first-rounders, but if they can add firsts that are a few years out, then they can stockpile them for when they actually need them. Would those picks turn out to be more valuable than Johnson is now? It's hard to say, but San Antonio isn't winning anything this season and may not be a contender by the time his contract expires.

His ceiling with the Spurs is also that of a third option, assuming another player doesn't usurp him before then. All that is to say is that he isn't untouchable, and the team should kick the tires on trading him while his value is high and he has several years remaining on his contract.