The San Antonio Spurs officially kicked off their rebuild this offseason when they traded Dejounte Murray away to the Atlanta Hawks. The Spurs hadn’t really been winning in recent seasons and were struggling to stay afloat, and decided to blow things up by moving Murray and starting from scratch.
So far, the Spurs have been as advertised, posting a 6-14 record through 20 games and looking likely to not contend for the playoffs. They will have more players on their roster be viewed as trade candidates for other teams, but it’s going to be important to consider what they should get back in return for those players, as piling up draft picks and young players is going to be a critical piece of their rebuilding efforts.
San Antonio has quite a few appealing trade candidates on their roster, which should help them get a decent return in their effort to continue building their roster back up. But the Spurs should target a few players if they do end up moving some of their veterans, so let’s take a look at who the team’s most realistic trade target is through a month of the season.
Spurs realistic trade target: James Wiseman
James Wiseman’s tenure with the Golden State Warriors hasn’t gone according to plan. Wiseman showed some potential as a rookie during the 2020-21 season, but also endured a lot of growing pains and some injuries. Those injuries ended up leading Wiseman to miss the entire 2021-22 season, and the Warriors were hoping he would be able to figure things out in his return to the court.
Instead, Wiseman looked completely lost on the court in the early going, and ended up getting sent to Golden State’s G-League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors. With Wiseman struggling to find his way with the Warriors, the team may be interested in cutting their losses with him at some point this season.
The Spurs would be wise to take a flier on Wiseman as they try to collect as much young talent as they can. Wiseman has a ton of talent, and after all, he was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. But he doesn’t look likely to reach it during his time with Golden State as he now is spending time with Santa Cruz.
San Antonio could offer Wiseman a consistent path to NBA minutes, especially if they end up trading their starting center Jakob Poeltl, which is becoming more and more likely to happen. The easiest way for Wiseman to improve is for him to stay on the court, and while playing him in the G-League makes sense, it’s not going to be something that really helps him improve drastically.
Through 11 NBA games this season, Wiseman’s numbers don’t seem atrocious (6.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1 APG, 58.8 FG%) considering he was only playing 13.4 minutes per game. But watching Wiseman actually play was a different story. He looked uninterested on both sides of the ball, and was failing to make even basic plays for an NBA caliber center. There was really no way that Golden State could afford to give him minutes as a result.
Wiseman has the potential to be a transcendent player, but he doesn’t seem to be close to reaching it right now, and considering Golden State’s title aspirations, they aren’t really in a position to give him the time to figure things out. The Spurs, on the other hand, have all the time in the world, and would gladly give Wiseman minutes in an effort to turn him into a star center.
The Warriors’ need for more capable wing players could make them interested in a guy like Josh Richardson, and while a straight up swap here wouldn’t make sense, that’s the base for a potential deal that could happen between these two sides. The Spurs could likely pick up another draft pick or another player as well, but if they want to move Richardson, Wiseman would be a pretty interesting lottery ticket to bring onboard as well.
Right now, it doesn’t seem like Wiseman has a future with Golden State, and while his value has never really been lower, he could be a valuable commodity to a rebuilding team like the Spurs. It may be tough to cut ties with such a high draft pick less than three full years after drafting him, but that’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.
The Spurs could easily give Wiseman NBA minutes, and playing for another legendary head coach in Gregg Popovich could be just what he needs to turn the corner. San Antonio may not have many trade targets, but it’s clear making a play for Wiseman would make a lot of sense for them this season.