San Antonio Spurs: 3 Trades to turn cap space into assets

Andrew Wiggins, Lonnie Walker IV
Andrew Wiggins, Lonnie Walker IV / Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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San Antonio Spurs
Dario Saric, Devin Vassell / Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Trade 1: San Antonio Spurs receive Dario Saric, No. 29 pick from Phoenix Suns for Tre Jones, No. 41 pick

As the Phoenix Suns assert themselves as an NBA Finals contender, Dario Saric has largely been left in the dust. After playing nearly 25 minutes per game during his first year in the Valley, Saric was down to 17.4 minutes per game in the regular season and only 12 per game in the playoffs through Game 3 of the Conference Finals.

Saric is owed about $17 million over the next two seasons with Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges’ rookie deals set to expire after next year. The Suns can’t afford to keep Dario on the books if they’re going to maintain this starting rotation. Clearing $6.9 million in cap space goes a long way for a team spending a combined $75.9 million on its starting backcourt next season.

This is where San Antonio can cash in on its cap flexibility to move up in the draft.

Tre Jones has fit in nicely with the Spurs’ young core and shows excellent potential on both sides of the floor. Nevertheless, second-round talent and undrafted free agents are showing more promise than ever, which makes backup point guards a dime a dozen. Jones would serve as an insurance policy for backup point guard Cameron Payne, who will hit unrestricted free agency after showing out for Phoenix.

At $8.5 million next year and $9.2 million owed the following season, Saric’s cap will be manageable for a Spurs team that’s on the verge of losing two players that occupied minutes at the power forward in DeRozan and Rudy Gay. 

San Antonio would move up 11 places in this year’s draft, putting them in range for another one of their signature late-first-round success stories. The Spurs’ last four No. 29 picks turned into Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Cory Joseph. Needless to say, the team has done well in this range.