When the San Antonio Spurs tipped off their 50th season in the Alamo City and got off to a hot start, fans and writers alike immediately realized that the Spurs could stockpile even more picks and future assets by trading three veterans, namely Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardson, and Doug McDermott.
Poeltl established himself as a cornerstone of the Spurs on both ends of the floor last season and has consistently remained one of the best players on the team and an elite defender with two-way abilities. The asking price for him is high, and fans know it. There is also a reluctance to deal him away, as the Spurs could resign him in free agency and keep him in the paint next year as a foundational piece.
The real value comes in veteran sharpshooters Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott Richardson will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and would most likely be a rental to a contender, and McDermott is under contract through 2024. The Spurs flipped a role player in Derrick White last season to Boston, who used him to run the Eastern Conference and make the NBA Finals. Richardson could be a similar story, as he adds some pop and firepower off the bench.
McDermott is one of the most reliable shooters in the league and is almost always good for ten efficient points from the deep per game. That being said, each player’s trade value has taken a hit recently.
Richardson started the first eight games of the season averaging 10.6 points3.5 assists and shot 41% from three. McDermott averaged 10.2 points on a whopping 43% shooting from deep in his first ten games. Since the first half of the season, Richardson is posting under ten points on 38% shooting from deep and increased his turnovers from 1.6 per game to 1.8. While that’s not a huge drop, it is noticeable. McDermott’s points have remained the same, but his three-point percentage dropped to 37%, which is the main reason teams would trade for him.
At the start of the season, we hoped that the veterans could be flipped for a first-round pick each, but that seems less and less likely. Still, would you move the pair of them for a pick, if possible? The Lakers and Nets seem like the teams most likely to want to make an offer, but after trading for Anthony Davis and James Harden, both teams have a shortage of picks to deal away, and they would have to attach a sizeable contract to make a deal work.
If the Spurs are committed to losing games–and it looks like they’re all in–then keeping Richardson and letting him walk in free agency might be smarter than taking back a bad contract. McDermott is already on a bad contract and has more value, given his consistency, so taking back a contract for him in order to add a pick wouldn’t be horrible.
Regardless of how the Spurs approach the trade market, it’s clear that teams are less interested in the duo than they may have been when the season first started. Maybe the Spurs should have pulled the trigger earlier, or maybe they want to stay the course.