The San Antonio Spurs have been the epicenter of NBA trade rumors. With their obsession with young talent and draft picks and established veterans on team-friendly deals, the Spurs seem to be a dumping ground for bad contracts and first-round picks in all the mock trades.
Three names are repeated over and over in the Spurs trade talks: Jakob Poeltl, Doug McDermott, and Josh Richardson. Richardson and McDermott would provide shooting and depth for championship contenders wanting to strengthen their bid, and Poeltl can make a good team a great team as a starting center or a great team elite team as a potential backup.
If Poeltl is traded away, Zach Collins and Charles Bassey would be called on to carry the load in the frontcourt and split the minutes gap that he would leave behind. That would be a definite talent shift, but the Spurs would manage, and the return on Poeltl would be bigger than anything they could get for McDermott or Richardson.
Richardson and McDermott are the only bench shooters on the team
If the Spurs were to trade away both McDermott and Richardson, I imagine they could get a lightly protected first-round pick back for either of them, but there would be a big problem: who shoots the ball?
The Spurs are 20th in three-point attempts per game this season, and Richardson and McDermott are third and fourth on the team in attempts. McDermott has a full season left on his contract, and Richardson can walk after this season, but who is shooting the ball off the bench? Vassell and Johnson seem to have the starting unit under control, but Malaki Branham and Romeo Langford–the other backup wings, are not exactly sharpshooters.
Even as the Spurs continue their youth movement, it’s important that they have at least one reliable, veteran shooter who can knock down the big shots. Stanley Johnson could turn into that guy, but he only takes 1.6 threes per game so far, so it’s unclear if he can keep hitting shots. After all, he’s a career 30% shooter.
Romeo Langford has never been a shooting threat, even dating back to his college days. Finding a knockdown shooter in the draft is difficult, so even if the Spurs get a lot of draft capital back, there’s no guarantee they will add a bench shooter.
If the Spurs are serious about drafting Wembanyama, then the rebuild needs to end quickly. There’s no chance of the Spurs landing the first overall pick and losing all next season to surround him with even more talent. The Spurs need shooters, but they already have some, and losing them both is not a sensible move.