San Antonio Spurs Trade Proposal 2
In this second trade proposal, Lonnie Walker is added to the trade along with White, Poeltl, and the Bulls' 2025 first-round pick. For Phoenix, Jalen Smith would also be added to the deal along with Ayton and Saric.
A bigger trade comes with more complications, though could also be more appealing to the Suns for several reasons. For one, the Suns would shed both Saric and Smith's salary for the 2022-23 season, allowing them to save in both future salary and luxury tax.
Secondly, with White and Poeltl locked up for at least two more seasons and Walker a restricted free agent, Phoenix could build a deeper and cheaper team without Ayton. Last but not least, Walker, White, and Poeltl are all 27 or younger, and assuming all three play well this season, they could become a part of the Suns' future post-trade.
For the Spurs, White appears to be the most likely of their young core to be traded due to his age. Moreover, moving him in a trade for Ayton would be excellent value considering White was selected 29th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft, a year before Ayton was selected first overall.
Furthermore, the Spurs could fill the void left by losing White and Walker by starting Vassell at shooting guard and having Joshua Primo play backup shooting guard. With Ayton at center, San Antonio's new starting lineup would include Dejounte Murray, Vassell, Keldon Johnson, and Doug McDermott.
While the Spurs still might not contend this season, Vassell and Johnson still have plenty of untapped potential, as does Ayton. Factor in another lottery pick in 2022 and the Spurs could be well-positioned to compete in a couple of seasons.
Ultimately, the second trade is certainly a possibility, though it would largely hinge on the play of Walker and White. If they play up to their potential then this trade proposal could prove to be a very competitive offer.
Overall, the odds of the Spurs making such a big trade in-season appears unlikely, as does Phoenix moving Ayton before they have to. However, San Antonio was far more active this past offseason, which included making three trades in August alone. It's not far-fetched to think that they'd look to make another trade during the season, and Ayton would likely be on their radar if he became available.
For Phoenix, the decision not to extend a top prospect entering the final year of his rookie deal is highly unusual and could alienate Ayton. It's happened before. For instance, Gordon Hayward wasn't signed to a rookie extension and it was reportedly among the reasons he left Utah three seasons later. This was also the case with Kawhi Leonard, who also wasn't extended and later forced his way out after a growing rift with the Spurs.
The Ayton situation could ultimately turn out the same way and eventually result in him joining another team. With any luck, it will be the San Antonio Spurs.