Nothing sets NBA Twitter aflame quite like the news that a team is looking to trade away their star players to initiate a rebuild. The recent explosive news that the Indiana Pacers were looking to move off of Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner sent fans of every team, San Antonio Spurs included, running to their favorite trade machine.
As a fan of a team in the middle of a pretty grueling rebuild, I felt obligated to mock up a way that the Spurs could acquire a few of the Pacers' stars.
Unlike Lakers fans, who would happily try to convince you that the Pacers are dying to do a Talen Horton-Tucker for Sabonis swap, I tried to be a little more grounded in my expectations. Still, let's be forthcoming about a few things.
Bluntly, this trade is very unlikely to happen for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost is San Antonio's decades-long aversion to making splashy in-season trades. It's so infrequent that last year I got excited to see the Spurs trade for Marquese Chriss, if only because it meant they were finally getting in on the action.
Secondly, I'm not sure there is a middle ground that the Spurs and Pacers could come to that would leave both sides feeling that they're better off. The Pacers are going full rebuild. Like, deep, years-long rebuild. That means they'll be angling for high-upside, very young players. The players that best that fit that description for San Antonio are Devin Vassell, Josh Primo, and Keldon Johnson.
Would San Antonio be willing to part with at least two of these players to jump-start a rebuild? Unlikely. But for the sake of the argument — and the views — here is a trade that could be a good starting point.
Spurs flip young players and picks to land Caris LeVert, Domantas Sabonis, and Dario Saric
This is a big one. Dario Saric, Domantas Sabonis, Caris LeVert, and a second-round pick would all be going to San Antonio. Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, Keldon Johnson, Jalen Smith, and three first-rounders would head to Indiana to help stock their war chest for an impending rebuild, and Thaddeus Young goes to Phoenix to help shore up their frontcourt as they make a run to challenge Golden State for Western Conference supremacy.
There's a lot to unpack here, so let's get right into breaking down how this deal makes sense for each team involved, starting with the San Antonio Spurs.