The San Antonio Spurs are leaning fully into a rebuild after the stunning Dejounte Murray trade, as the front office apparently sees greater long-term benefit in bottoming out now rather than being stuck in the middle. Unfortunately, this comes at a time when the Houston Rockets are starting to hit their stride.
After drafting Jalen Green and Jabari Smith in consecutive seasons, Rafael Stone and Stephen Silas appear ready to begin the post-James Harden era in earnest. While San Antonio's future is full of question marks, Houston's became even more enticing after the latest bombshell that took the fabric of the league.
Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday afternoon, bringing an end to their grand experiment after three injury-filled seasons. Thanks to the resources they gave up to acquire Harden, Houston may be the biggest benefactor of this development.
Even if the Nets end up getting a somewhat significant haul back for Durant and Irving in trades, the fact that the Rockets control the draft of what will likely be a fringe playoff team will give them the opportunity to consistently add lottery-level talent for years. The Spurs' climb back to the top will only get more difficult.
Spurs suffer, Rockets benefit from Kevin Durant's Nets trade request
Houston has unprotected picks in 2024 and 2026, with the more favorable first-rounder coming to them in 2023, 2025, and 2027. If Green and Smith develop faster than most expect, those picks can be used as valuable commodities in a hypothetical trade for a star that leaves the Spurs further in the dust.
While the Spurs did pick up multiple unprotected firsts from the Hawks in the Murray deal, Brooklyn's Ben Simmons-led cast of characters is more likely to hang around the lottery fringes than a well-run Atlanta team captained by Murray and Trae Young in the backcourt.
These moves come at a time when the Southwest is as competitive as it has ever been. The Mavericks will always be a problem as long as Luka Doncic is healthy, the Grizzlies locked up Ja Morant after their dominant season, and the Pelicans have a ver slid young core to work with. San Antonio has...hope?
The Spurs are not only bracing for a long rebuild, but they're doing so in a division that just got monumentally more robust in the last few months. After years of dancing on Houston's post-Harden grave, it looks like they are ready to rise from the ashes thanks to Brooklyn's incompetence.