Prior to the dismissal of former San Antonio Spurs guard Josh Primo, the general consensus was that the team would look to trade veterans like Jakob Poeltl, Doug McDermott, and Josh Richardson. That would allow the Spurs to secure additional 1st-round picks to be used toward their rebuild. It would also make the team much worse, which, taking some of the names in next year's draft into account, could actually be a good thing.
These latest developments may force the Spurs to reconsider their options, however, and whether they should be making trades this season or not. While it's certainly understandable for the team to assess and reassess, whatever decision they make could have big ramifications for the team going forward.
Is a Spurs trade more or less likely?
In addition to providing leadership, the Spurs' three veterans are a big reason why they've gotten off to a strong start this season. Despite only being projected to win 30 games by FiveThirtyEight's preseason RAPTOR ratings, the team already has four wins in their first six games, with three of them coming against playoff teams. Poeltl, Richardson, and McDermott have each played pivotal roles in the team's early success, and while that success may be short-lived, they help keep the team competitive.
McDermott and Richardson are two of the team's best shooters and can get hot in a hurry, helping steady an otherwise shaky offense, while Poeltl has arguably been the team's best all-around player. Moving on from those players, while perhaps better for the team in the long run, could hurt them a lot in the short term.
Remaining competitive doesn't necessarily mean that the Spurs will make the playoffs or the play-in tournament this season. Instead, by keeping those three players, the team would ensure that they play at a consistent level from game to game, even if the talent deficit is too much for the team to overcome. Still, their presence could be beneficial to the remaining young players on the roster. For instance, Jeremy Sochan could learn from having to defend an opposing team's top scorer down the stretch.
Keldon Johnson would also have more freedom to figure out how to create for himself and others when guarded by another team's best defender in the clutch. Without Poeltl, Richardson, and McDermott, this team may not play as many close games. Players can still obviously learn in those situations, but perhaps not nearly as fast.
Then again, the Spurs are likely in for a long rebuild, so that may not matter as much. Additionally, they could conceivably hold on to McDermott, Poeltl, and Richardson for a bit longer than initially expected, then try to trade all three for assets before the trade deadline in February. That would give the team another three and a half months with those players before then pivoting purely towards player development, as bad teams often do, during the final two months of the season.
As far as player development is concerned, Sochan already looks like a legit NBA player, while Tre Jones has proven himself as a starter. Better yet, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson have seamlessly stepped up to fill bigger roles. Those four, along with the trio of Zach Collins, Gorgui Dieng, and Isaiah Roby, replacing Poeltl by committee, are a more-than-capable group. However, the Spurs would have to rely on players like Blake Wesley, Malaki Branham, and Romeo Langford, none of whom are particularly reliable at the moment.
Still, it would give young players more playing time and the Spurs a better chance at the first or second overall pick. That would be a key development because the Spurs can only go so far without a superstar, and while Johnson and Vassell are nice, neither project to be that.
As a result, the Spurs can't afford to hold onto their veterans if it means possibly sacrificing a chance at selecting a star, especially now that yet another recent first-round pick has failed to pan out. A trade is therefore more likely now than before for the Spurs.