Final Grades for Spurs Trade Deadline Transactions
With the NBA trade deadline and all related transactions in the books, it’s time to take a look back at what the San Antonio Spurs accomplished. The Spurs had the goal of acquiring draft capital and San Antonio ended up with one first round draft pick and seven second round draft picks.
Below, find grades for each of the six transactions the Spurs completed during the trade deadline season.
Spurs Trade Protected 2024 Second Round Pick to Celtics for Noah Vonleh and $1.5 million
The Spurs kicked off the trade deadline wheeling and dealing with this minor deal with the Boston Celtics. The second round draft pick the Spurs sent the Celtics is protected through the 55th pick of the 2024 draft, so it’s essentially worthless. San Antonio also promptly waived Noah Vonleh after the trade was completed.
Since the Spurs never reached the minimum salary floor, in hindsight the Spurs didn’t lose any money by releasing Vonleh. That means that the only tangible result of this trade was San Antonio’s ownership getting a check for $1.5 million.
From a fan’s perspective, it’s hard to be too upset or too thrilled by this trade. At the end of the day, free money is free money.
Spurs Trade $110,000 to Heat for Dewayne Dedmon and 2028 Second Round Pick
A few days before the trade deadline, the Spurs basically bought a second round pick from the Miami Heat. The $110,000 the Spurs sent the Heat represents the minimum amount of money that can be sent in a trade.
The Spurs ended up waiving Dewayne Dedmon and eating the rest of the guaranteed money on his contract. But, again, since the Spurs didn’t reach the salary floor, San Antonio didn’t actually lose any money by taking on Dedmon’s guaranteed money.
The final result of this trade is the Spurs paid $110,000 for an unprotected 2028 second round pick from the Heat. Considering that buying second round draft picks on draft day can cost $2 million and up, that’s quite a discount.
Spurs Trade Jakob Poeltl to Raptors for Khem Birch, Protected 2024 First Round Pick, 2023 Second Round Pick and 2025 Second Round Pick
It’s always difficult to trade away a talented player and great locker room guy like Jakob Poeltl but the Spurs have to be happy with the package they received in return. In fact, in retrospect, the package looks even better than it did at first blush.
While teams were willing to trade away second round picks at this year’s trade deadline, acquiring first round picks was much more difficult. When the dust settled, this trade ended up being only one of a handful of deals that involved a first round pick.
Although the first round pick from the Raptors isn’t unprotected, the protections on it are minimal. The pick is protected 1-6 for three drafts starting in 2024 and then, if it hasn’t been conveyed, it turns into a pair of second round picks. It’s very, very safe to say that the Spurs will end up with a first round pick from the Raptors — and most likely next season.
The 2023 second round pick the Spurs got from the Raptors also has some value. Currently, it’s the 39th pick in the 2023 draft. Both the 2023 and 2025 second round picks the Spurs received from the Raptors are unprotected.
Regarding Khem Birch, it’s looking less and less likely that he’ll ever suit up for San Antonio due to a knee condition. Considering he has $7 million guaranteed to him next season, that’s obviously less than ideal. However, according to a team source, the Spurs completed the transaction knowing that Birch may be dealing with a career-ending injury. A final determination has yet to be made but if that ends up being the case, San Antonio could file for a disabled player exception.
What also needs to be factored into this trade are the whispers that Poeltl is planning to ask for $80 million over four years as a free agent this summer. Given where the Spurs are in their rebuilding process, it would have been difficult to justify giving him that much money.
Overall, this was the most important move the Spurs made at the trade deadline — and, looking at the landscape and the other deals that were completed at the deadline, it looks like a very strong move from San Antonio’s perspective.
Spurs Trade Josh Richardson to Pelicans for Devonte’ Graham and Four Second Round Draft Picks
The Spurs wanted a first round pick for free-agent-to-be Josh Richardson but ended up settling for four second round picks and Devonte’ Graham.
Part of the motivation for the New Orleans Pelicans was getting rid of Graham’s contract. After this season, he is still owed approximately $15 million in guaranteed money.
That guaranteed money the Spurs need to eat stops this from being a great trade for the good guys. To be a great trade, San Antonio would have needed to have gotten a first round pick in this deal.
That said, there’s a possibility that the Spurs can rehabilitate Graham’s value. He’s a top tier volume three-point shooter in a league that values three-point shooting, so there’s a very real chance that Graham could become a positive trade asset in the next 12 months if he plays well with San Antonio.
As far as the four second round draft picks are concerned, the Spurs got a relatively impressive haul. In the 2024 draft, the Spurs get the more favorable of the Pelicans second round pick and the Chicago Bulls second round pick. San Antonio ending up with a top-45 next season due to this trade looks like a legitimate possibility.
In 2026, the Spurs get the less favorable second round pick from the Pelicans and the Portland Trail Blazers. San Antonio also gets unprotected second round picks from the Pelicans in 2028 and 2029.
All in all, this trade doesn’t jump off the page as a huge win but it was a solid trade that could look even better as time passes.
Spurs Waive Stanley Johnson and Sign Charles Bassey to a Four-Year, $10.2 Million Contract
In the weeks, days and hours leading up to the trade deadline, the Spurs attempted to use their salary cap space as a means to acquire an extra first round pick. According to a team source, the Spurs held out hope until the waning minutes that a trade would present itself that would net San Antonio valuable draft capital. Unfortunately, no such trade emerged and the Spurs were left with more than $20 million in salary cap space when the buzzer sounded on the trade deadline.
With money left to spend, the Spurs decided to use some of it to lock up Charles Bassey. The 22-year-old center, who was previously on a two-way contract, got $2.5 million for the rest of this season. Next season, he’s guaranteed another $2.5 million. The following two seasons, he’s due a total of $5.2 million — but that money is unguaranteed.
All told, Bassey got a four-year, $10.2 million contract with $5 million guaranteed. That’s quite a bit of job security for a player who couldn’t land a minimum NBA contract a few months ago. Congratulations to the San Antonio high school product.
From the Spurs perspective, this was a low risk move. Due to not reaching the salary floor, the $2.5 million the franchise gave Bassey this season was money that was going to be spent one way or another. That essentially makes this a three-year contract extension totaling $7.7 million, with only $2.5 million being guaranteed.
According to a few scouts I talked to, the consensus on Bassey was that he had done enough with the Spurs this season to land a guaranteed contract worth around $2 million this upcoming summer. That means San Antonio basically gave him an extra $500,000 to lock in a pair of non-guaranteed seasons. For a prospect who appears to have room to grow and who fills a need following the Poeltl trade, that’s a smart business move by the Spurs.
Waiving Stanley Johnson wasn’t really a notable loss. He played well during his time with the Spurs, averaging 5.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 15.6 minutes per game, while shooting 53.3% from the field and 45% from three-point land. But on a rebuilding team like the Spurs, Johnson’s not much of a needle-mover. He’ll be more valuable on a contending team looking for a perimeter defender who can do some interesting things on offense.
Overall, locking in Bassey was a win for the Spurs. It wasn’t a home run looking strictly at the numbers but, in the big picture, Bassey is clearly a prospect worth keeping in the system.
Spurs Claim Julian Champagnie Off Waivers from 76ers
After Bassey got his NBA contract, the Spurs were left with an empty two-way contract slot. San Antonio didn’t waste much time filling that void, as the Spurs claimed Julian Champagnie off waivers from the Philadelphia 76ers just a few days later. The Sixers had signed Champagnie to a two-way contract back in July.
Champagnie is a 22-year-old small forward out of St. John’s who went undrafted in the 2022 NBA Draft. In the 14 G League games this season, he’s averaging 21.9 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals in 35.1 minutes per game. He’s shooting 46.5% from the floor, 34.7% from the three-point arc and 83.9% from the free throw line. Known for his three-point shooting, Champagnie has attempted 8.9 threes per game while playing for Philadelphia’s G League team.
We’ll see if Champagnie pans out but his production makes him an intriguing prospect. Plus, considering that the Spurs signed Bassey after he was released by the Sixers, that worked out well enough to try it again.