The San Antonio Spurs have been a surprising success so far this year. They are currently 21-16 with an even Net Rating, good for 7th in the Western Conference. This success was not something many predicted preseason but Popovich and the Spurs always manage to stick around.
However, the Spurs have two routes to go this deadline. They could trade a couple of veterans for young assets or they could trade young assets for veterans and attempt to win. Each of these scenarios has merits and demerits and there is a good move that could be made in either case.
The Spurs are full of interesting assets that are not on their untouchables list. In the veteran category, they have Patty Mills, Rudy Gay, and to a lesser likelihood of being traded, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan. For young assets, they have Luka Samanic, Derrick White, Devin Vassell, and Lonnie Walker IV.
New York Knicks Receive: JJ Redick and Luke Kennard
New Orleans Pelicans Receive: Rudy Gay, Lou Williams, Mfiondu Kabengele, and a 2022 Second Round Pick (via Clippers)
Los Angeles Clippers Receive: Patty Mills and Austin Rivers
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Lonzo Ball, Terrence Mann, and a 2021 Lottery Protected First Round Pick (via Knicks)
This is a really complex deal but it involves a lot of the rumors swirling around right now. Starting with the New York Knicks, they are really missing shooting if they want to make a real run at the top half of the Eastern Conference. They have around $13 Million in cap space to play with this trade deadline and that lets them take in JJ Redick without issue and Luke Kennard’s poison pill provision doesn’t take effect here because of that.
The Pelicans are the most interesting team in this trade because they’re getting two veterans, one expiring and one with an extra year, and a young prospect who will be unrestricted in the offseason. Gay and Williams are good fits because they provide the space and playmaking that the Pelicans desperately need. Kabengele has some potential as a 2-way stretch big and he likely won’t be difficult to resign if the Pelicans like his fit.
The Clippers have made it very known that they want a Point Guard and Patty Mills is a super underrated one. Patty is one of the best guard shooters in the NBA and the Spurs run constant floppy and pin-down actions for him. He would help the Clippers compete for a championship this year and be an excellent bench guard for them.
The Spurs get two really interesting players in this deal. Ball has been on the trade market all year and the Spurs are a great fit for his skillset. He’ll be in a 3 guard rotation with Derrick White and Dejounte Murray and he’ll play next to good slashing wings who can maximize his playmaking. Terrence Mann has been quietly excellent for the Clippers this year, supplanting Kennard in the rotation. He is a gritty defender and a good athlete and playmaker on defense.
The Spurs chose to go young with this move, betting on their development of young players and already established young stars like Dejounte and Keldon Johnson. This would be a very fun team to watch as it’s full of athletic high-flyers and tough defenders.
Orlando Magic Receive: LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Trey Lyles, Derrick White, Luka Samanic, and a 2021 Lottery Protected First Round Pick
San Antonio Spurs Receive: Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross, Evan Fournier, Khem Birch, and Dwayne Bacon
This trade serves a couple of purposes for each team. The Magic get to shed salary for future seasons and get two young players and a pick for their trouble. Derrick White can play either guard spot and this will help the Magic with some versatility in the future. Samanic is a long-term bet but had a really good G-League bubble and has an interesting skill set at 6’11.
The Spurs make this move because it roots them firmly in playoff contention and helps bolster their young, slashing line-up with lots of shooting. Nikola Vucevic is the ideal 5 to play with DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray. Terrence Ross provides a boost to the bench group and Fournier would likely be the starting 2 when healthy. This is a move for now, but it doesn’t completely mortgage the future for them.