The San Antonio Spurs are not the first team you think of when you are going through teams who may be active on or around the NBA trade deadline. You would be right for thinking that, their last trade at this time of year was back in 2014 after all. However, things are a little different for the Spurs this season, they are in a situation where most other teams would push the button, but will the San Antonio Spurs push the button, and make a deadline deal in 2018 to strengthen their squad? Time will tell….
The big issue the Spurs have is that Kawhi Leonard is out indefinitely, and Rudy Gay is also watching games at the moment due to his health issues. While the Spurs may prefer to keep things in house and use their bench as opposed to making deadline deals, can they afford to do that with the potential for them to slip down the Western Conference rankings into 4th or maybe even 5th place.
Then comes the second problem for the Spurs to get their heads around. They don’t really have any huge trade bait to dangle out, in return for quality pieces. The one thing that could help them with that, is if the deadline is quiet, and all of a sudden those looking to sell have to sell at cheaper prices. That will certainly bring the Spurs into the equation, and they could find themselves on the right end of a bargain deal to keep them in the top three of the Western Conference.
So who should the San Antonio Spurs be targeting realistically? Here is a look at the top five trades the San Antonio Spurs need to make before the 2018 NBA trade deadline closes.
#5 Michael Beasley from the New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are one of the most interesting pieces of the trade deadline puzzle, so much so that two of their players feature in this list. Beasley is the least likely trade the Spurs are going to make, but he does need considering.
Firstly, this trade will only happen if one of the following two scenarios takes place in the coming weeks:
1 – The New York Knicks lose games, accept defeat and become sellers at the trade deadline
2 – The New York Knicks land Kemba Walker in a deal that also includes Marvin Williams, making Beasley a little more expandable at the draft deadline
Should either of those happen then it would not surprise me to see Michael Beasley become available on the trade deadline day itself. With the potential for a quiet day, and with few clubs looking to land a player like Beasley, the San Antonio Spurs could find themselves in a good bargaining position with the Knicks.
If they can take advantage of that, then they add a player to the roster who won’t be a superstar, but will be someone who can contribute night in night out.
#4 Courtney Lee from the New York Knicks
A deal to land Courtney Lee from the Knicks would also require the Knicks to be a seller at the deadline, just like the move for Beasley may need. As I have said, the Knicks are the most intriguing team for me at the deadline, no one quite knows what is going to happen.
Should they turn into sellers then a player like Courtney Lee would be available, he is certainly not in the upcoming plans for the Knicks, as his contract expires in 2020. We’ve seen a 24 point game and multiple games where Lee has put up numbers in the high teens already in 2018, and he continues to show he can put numbers up in this league.
There will be many teams around the NBA looking to add additional scoring and experience to their lineup before the deadline, and Lee fits both of those nicely. He isn’t the huge star name some are looking for, but he would be a good deadline buy and in demand should the Knicks turn out to be sellers over the coming weeks.
The situation the Knicks are in doesn’t allow for a frenzy, and doesn’t let them negotiate deals to push the price up, so someone may get a last minute cut price deal, don’t be surprise if that is the Spurs.
#3 Kemba Walker from the Charlotte Hornets
There are question marks over whether the Spurs will pull off any kind of deal, let alone a big one. But what if they decided to change things up, try something new, and become a player in the Kemba Walker sweepstakes?
This would certainly be a blockbuster, and would hugely enhance the chances the Spurs had of challenging for the Western Conference title, but on paper it looks like a move they would not make. Being dynamic, and changing with the times is required to get the upper hand in the NBA, and it would be great to see the Spurs do that and land Walker.
Should Walker become a member of the San Antonio Spurs then it is likely they would have to give up many pieces including Rudy Gay and younger parts of their future. They are playing without Gay right now, and with the form of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs would find themselves with a big three of Aldridge, Leonard and their new acquisition Walker.
Landing Walker won’t be easy though, there are many other teams eyeing up Walker, who is clearly available over the next couple of weeks, and seems sure to move at some point. The Spurs do not have a great amount to put on the trade table, especially compared to some of the other names that have been mentioned as potential landing spots for Walker.
However, should the somehow find a deal, there is no doubting that Walker would make the Spurs a better team and would give them exactly what they need right now.
The timing and size of the deal put this down a number three, but should it happen it would be a blockbuster for sure.
#2 Tyreke Evans from the Memphis Grizzlies
There is no doubting that Tyreke Evans is available should the Spurs want to make a move for him. This is the type of deal I expect to see them make, if they make one at all, and Evans would be a nice fit for them.
The first stumbling block is likely to be the price, with those in Memphis wanting a first round pick for Evans. The Spurs may be able to put together a package including a second round pick and a player, which may interest Evans, but that would only happen if others deals were not on the table.
Evans would come in and be a good upgrade on Kyle Anderson, if he found himself in the deal that would give the Grizzlies a replacement for Evans and a pick at the draft, something that is likely to interest them further.
The quiet trade market will help the Spurs make this deal and the closer we get to the deadline, the more likely it is that Evans’ price will drop, making San Antonio a player in the market to land him.
#1 Stanley Johnson from the Detroit Pistons
I think there is a lot going for this trade. The Spurs are not known for making moves at this time of year, so should they feel like they have to, maybe they will want to revisit something they have tried before, to give them comfort they are making a well thought out deal. That brings Stanley Johnson into the trade equation, a player they have looked at extensively before, and a player who is available at the right price.
What Johnson would bring to the team is something they need in the absence of Kawi Leonard and that is solid defensive play. You are not going to get great ball play from Johnson, or playmaking ability, but you will get a versatile player who can defend well, and defend four positions.
While Johnson fills in a defensive hole in the absence of Leonard, he also provides them with a great one-two defensive punch when Leonard returns. The Spurs would have considerably improved their defensive play by adding Johnson, giving them something else to use in the playoffs against their fellow big guns in the Western Conference.
While Stanley Johnson may not be the explosive player that fans would love to see arrive in San Antonio, he would be a good fit and something the Spurs front office would be comfortable doing near the deadline. The Spurs are not known for deadline moves, and may like the comfort blanket of having their past research fully completed on Johnson, and that may make him the most viable option before the deadline.