Where Brian Wright Has Gone Wrong
Wright worked out a clever three-team deal that allowed for the Spurs to preserve their MLE, which was originally designated for DeMarre Carrol, to sign Marcus Morris. Morris, of course, backed out of his contract and signed with the Knicks and was even later traded to the Clippers for a first-round pick. That left the Spurs holding the bag after having traded sharpshooter Davis Bertans as a part of the deal in hopes of upgrading the Spurs' defense.
Wright pivoted by signing Trey Lyles, who was the next best power forward option remaining in free agency at the time. Lyles ultimately didn't pan out and is now playing in the land of former Spurs otherwise known as Detroit.
Carroll didn't pan out either and collected DNPs like vintage Jordans. He was later waived. The whole situation was a mess but it's important to remember that it was caused by Morris. Still, Wright's decision-making was sound. Carroll was actually a good player before being signed by the Spurs that simply didn't fit in while Lyles was worth the gamble as a cheap stretch-four option.
I'm willing to cut him some slack here, but the decision not to trade LaMarcus Aldridge during the 2020 offseason, when he still had value, was inexcusable. At the time, Aldridge was coming off a season in which he averaged 18.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks while also shooting 38.9% from three. Therefore, Wright should've traded him ahead of the final year of his contract, especially with Jakob Poeltl waiting in the wings to replace him.
Still, he opted to bring Aldridge back only to see his value plummet. Aldridge was later bought out after Wright was unable to find a suitable trade. Worse yet, Wright made the same mistake with Patty Mills and Rudy Gay, both of whom probably could've each fetched a couple of second-round picks. Instead, he let both leave in free agency, but he did at least pull off the DeRozan sign-and-trade.
Evaluating Brian Wright's Tenure with the Spurs
All in all, while there have been some missteps, Wright has actually been solid as GM of the Spurs. With the team now in a rebuild, he’s particularly done a good job of stockpiling picks, including adding a first and several seconds. With those assets, Wright can do a number of things, such as moving up in the 2022 NBA Draft or trading their two second-rounders for an additional first-round pick.
Moreover, in addition to a lottery pick, he’ll also have significant cap space that he can use to help upgrade the roster or rent it out to other teams in exchange for assets. Therefore, the Spurs are in a strong position going forward, and a lot of credit goes to Wright, who has done a good job as GM thus far.