The San Antonio Spurs have been included in trade rumors all season, much more than fans are used to. Jakob Poeltl has been the most frequent Spur mentioned, as the 27-year-old has shown he is entering his peak as an elite rim protector who is more than serviceable on the offensive side of the ball, but Josh Richardson is a likely trade candidate as well.
The 29-year-old wing is a solid and efficient 10-points-a-night type player who can hold his own on the defensive side of the ball. The Spurs have no delusions about winning games this year, and Richardson is a free agent at the end of the summer, so flipping him for future assets seems to be the smart move for all parties.
The Miami Heat are the frontrunner for Josh Richardson
The frontrunner to land Richardson is the Miami Heat, according to BleacherReport’s Zach Buckley. The Heat have the league’s fifth-best defense but post the league’s 28th-worst scoring offense. Enter Richardson. The Heat are not an aggressive shooting team, but Richardson is a very trigger-happy player. He also doesn’t compromise the defensive integrity the Heat pride themselves on.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has spoken highly of Richardson and seems interested in a reunion. Keep in mind he spent the first four seasons of his career in South Beach. In terms of fit, it doesn’t get much better than Miami and Richardson.
What would a trade with Miami look like?
With Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Duncan Robinson, the Heat are in win-now mode. With little regard for the long-term future, I think the Heat would be willing to part with a draft pick or a young player, either of which would make fans happy, in return for giving up a role player.
I imagine the Spurs could get a protected first-round pick for Richardson and would need to take back a bad contract just to make the money work. The Heat foolishly signed Victor Oladipo to a multi-year contract, so the Spur would have to bite that bullet. The former All-Star has played in just 65 games over the last three seasons, and there is no guarantee he will come back at all this season, let alone playing high-level basketball. The Spurs could cut him or keep him around as a locker-room guy who could help develop perimeter defense, but in return for taking on that contract, I think the trade could be favorable for San Antonio.
The Spurs get a protected pick and a young player who they really should have drafted with one of their first-round picks last season. Nikola Jovic hasn’t been posting Rookie of the Year numbers this season, but his overseas stat lines indicate that he can be a modern stretch five or power forward.
Maybe I’m being a tad greedy (or optimistic), but a package of basically two first-rounders for Richardson and taking a salary dump seems to make sense for the Spurs and adding a two-way wing who’s healthy could improve the Heat’s standing in the East.