The San Antonio Spurs have built one of the best young cores in the NBA around players like Devin Vassell, Dejounte Murray, and Keldon Johnson. Jakob Poeltl, Josh Primo, and Tre Jones all seem to have bright and long futures with the organization. On the backs of their stars and role players, the Spurs shocked the world and knocked off the juggernaut Lakers for the final spot in the NBA Play-In Tournament.
Moving forward, the Spurs have a ton of cap room to sign free agents, three 1st round draft picks this summer, and three restricted free agents. The Spurs will have to alter their roster to make room for any incoming talent, so who are the odd men out and where will they end up?
While it’s hard to guess where players might go before free agency and trading season even kicks off, there should be some clues based on who the Spurs will be willing to get rid of and what other teams might need. For example, it seems like Jock Landale is the third center behind Jakob Poeltl and Zach Collins, but his value isn’t really there for a team to offer real compensation for.
In order to shop around players, there has to be a market for them, either in a trade or in free agency.
1. Doug McDermott Might Move to New Orleans
It is no secret at this point that the San Antonio Spurs have moved past Doug McDermott. Since he has been off the court to the end of the season, the Spurs suddenly got white-hot and all the starters improved considerably. The Pelicans could use his presence on the court.
The New Orleans Pelicans had the fourth-worst 3-point percentage in the league and were near the bottom in attempts. With Zion Williamson presumably returning next season, the Pelicans could quietly be a team to beat in the Western Conference. With Zion dominating the paint and Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum scoring and handling the ball, adding a knock-down shooter would make a lot of sense.
They could mimic the 2009 Orlando Magic, with Zion acting as Dwight Howard surrounded by shooters. Adding a veteran leader with two years left to his deal would make a lot of sense for New Orleans.
Since McDermott is not a free agent, the Pelicans would have to put together a trade package to acquire him. The Pelicans only own the Lakers’ 2022 1st round pick, and McDermott is simply not worth a top-10 pick. In 2023, the Pelicans get the best pick between their own and the Lakers. Between an unpredictable team in New Orleans and a disaster in Los Angeles, the Pelicans will want to hold onto that pick.
The only option is to trade players. The Spurs need help at the power forward position, and the Pelicans could offer up Larry Nance Jr. Nance is a high volume rebounding journeyman who has never really found a home. Maybe San Antonio could be where he makes a name for himself. The worst-case scenario is he fizzles out, but he is a free agent after next season so it wouldn’t be a massive commitment for either party.
McDermott is the better player, but with Vassell and Johnson playing more complete ball at the same position and Josh Primo continuing to grow and develop, the Spurs might have to bite the bullet and make a move.