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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
San Antonio Spurs Jakob Poeltl / Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Trade 3: San Antonio Spurs receive Kevin Love, CLE’s 2022 1st-Rd Pick & 2022 2nd-Rd Pick, CLE receives Davis Bertans and WSH 2022 2nd-Rd Pick, WSH receives Jakob Poeltl, Taurean Prince

There are a lot of moving parts here, but ultimately, this deal can provide substantial value for all three of the teams involved. San Antonio Spurs fans might hate the concept of adding Kevin Love, but this is a real and ugly example of what it looks like to use cap space to acquire draft assets. Ask any OKC Thunder fan—It’s not always pretty, but if you play your cards right, it can be the key to a bright future.

Like Wiggins, Love’s contract is widely regarded as one of the worst in pro basketball. A perennial All-Star and essential cog to a championship machine in his past, Love is a shell of himself. Much of his dismay has come from the devolving situation in Cleveland since LeBron James’ departure. Getting a fresh start may bring out the best in him. Worst case scenario, Love gets benched, eats up cap space and the young players fill his minutes.

San Antonio would get a valuable first-round pick for absorbing his contract and a nice tip for their services in the form of a 2022 Second-Rounder. Cleveland needs to maneuver its cap situation carefully if it wants to re-sign Jarrett Allen without falling over the luxury tax.

On top of the benefits of parting ways with Love, Cleveland is incentivized by former Spur Davis Bertans. After securing a hefty contract from the Wiz, Bertans fell flat in his most recent season due to shooting slumps and nagging injury. He should get back on his feet in no time and Cleveland finished at the bottom of the league in 3-point shooting last year at 33.5 percent.

Lastly, the Wizards get a chance to reload for another year of the Bradley Beal/Russell Westbrook experiment. With an offensive engine like Beal and the explosive impact of Westbrook, it shouldn’t be hard to generate offense. Adding an elite rim protector in Poeltl to strengthen their defense would help them hold onto their playoff spot next year. 

Poeltl is clearly the Spurs’ casualty in this scenario. While I like what Poeltl has shown in his first year as a starting center, he also hasn’t shown an aptitude for improving skills beyond his comfort zone. He’s a traditional, rim-protecting, paint-scoring center who will set great screens and give you nothing outside of the paint in terms of a scoring threat. I don’t want to see Poeltl traded, but compared to many of his teammates, he’s expendable.

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Trade logistics can be very tricky in the NBA, and while adding a third trade partner sounds complicated, San Antonio can make the process easier for other teams while being compensated in the process.