LaMarcus Aldridge Trade for Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica? How This Deal Would Work

With the NBA trade deadline less than a week away, the clock is ticking on the San Antonio Spurs in their quest to trade LaMarcus Aldridge. One possible deal could involve the Sacramento Kings trading Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica and Robert Woodard II to the Spurs.

After the Miami Heat recently completed a trade that essentially swapped Meyers Leonard for Trevor Ariza, the chances of the Spurs trading Aldridge to the Heat took a hit. In the potential trades we previously outlined between the two teams, Leonard’s salary was needed in all the deals. While the Spurs and Heat could still make the numbers work, it would be a lot more difficult.

Let’s move on to this possible trade between the Spurs and the Kings.

Harrison Barnes, Nemanja Bjelica and Robert Woodard II for LaMarcus Aldridge, Lonnie Walker IV and a First Round Pick

Barnes has two more years on his contract. He’ll make $20.3 million next year and $18.3 million the year after that. Bjelica will be a free agent at the end of the year. Woodard has three more years on his contract but only $1.8 million in guaranteed money. Aldridge would be bought out by the Kings. Walker is eligible for a contract extension this summer. The first round draft pick in this trade would be top ten protected. 

Why the Spurs Would Consider This Trade

The Spurs historically don’t trade first round draft picks unless they are desperate to dump a salary. However, in this case, they’d trade the first round pick to get a long-term piece in Barnes. They’d also get a look at Bjelica, who at the very least would provide big man depth for the rest of the season, and they’d take a flier on Woodard. 

The thought behind acquiring Barnes, who turns 29 in May, is that he would be a good fit in the starting lineup once the Spurs move past the Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan era. A starting five of Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Barnes and Jakob Poeltl fits a lot better together than anything the Spurs can currently put on the court. 

Barnes is a good shooter and a capable passer. He also scores enough (16.6 points per game this season) to help replace what the Spurs will miss with DeRozan and Aldridge no longer in the picture. 

Bjelica, 32, would give the Spurs more shooting and a 6-foot-10 big who’s skilled enough on the perimeter to help space the court. It’s also possible San Antonio could reroute him to a contender. If this deal were to become a three-team trade, the Spurs would want at least one second round pick in return for Bjelica.

Woodard was the 40th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, one selection before the Spurs took Tre Jones 41st. There were rumors at the time that the Spurs were really interested in Woodard. He’s a burly, long-armed 6-foot-6, 235-pound forward who is known as a strong defender, capable rebounder, an improving shooter and a team-first player. 

To make matters more intriguing, Woodard played with the Austin Spurs this season (Sacramento didn’t field a team). While with Austin, he averaged 16.8 points and 11.0 rebounds in 31.2 minutes per game. Though Woodard isn’t a key part of this trade, San Antonio should have a pretty good idea of what they’re getting. Long-term, he projects into a possible three-and-D combo forward if he keeps improving. 

Losing Walker would obviously be tough to swallow for San Antonio considering they’ve invested a lot of time and effort in him. That said, with the emergence of Murray, White, Johnson and rookie Devin Vassell, Walker appears to be the most expendable young player on the roster who holds value. 

Needing to include a first round pick in this trade to get the Kings to part with Barnes obviously is the stumbling block. That said, the Spurs may do it for the following reasons.

1) It allows them to get value out of Aldridge’s contract.

2) It gives them a clear path forward that doesn’t need to include DeRozan. If a trade like this is made, the Spurs could more easily trade DeRozan — or at least not re-sign him to a big-money deal in the offseason.

3) Barnes’ contract is declining in value, he’s a fit in the starting lineup and he’s regarded as a high-character player. Those three factors combined make this a very safe trade.

4) The Spurs have replenished their stockpile of youthful prospects so it is now safer to trade away draft picks. Murray, White, Johnson, Vassell, Poeltl, Luka Samanic and Tre Jones all appear to be potential rotation pieces in upcoming seasons. Add Woodard to the mix and that’s already a lot of potential minutes accounted for.

What also needs to be addressed is Aldridge and him being dealt to the Kings. Why would he be on board? Aldridge has a trade kicker that would net him more than a million dollars if he’s traded. Thus, even though he is unlikely to play in Sacramento, he’d probably be happy with a trade like this. He’d get extra money and could then be bought out and go to the team of his choosing.

Why the Kings Would Consider This Trade

While Sacramento is expected to deal Bjelica by the trade deadline, the Kings are said to be reluctant to part with Barnes. Considering that Woodard has only played 17 minutes for the Kings this season and the fact that he’s still only a fringe NBA prospect, his inclusion in this deal shouldn’t be much of a game-changer.

If the Kings take this deal, they get pieces that could be helpful as they continue their rebuild. As it stands, they are 16-24 and don’t appear to be headed in the right direction.

Walker is still an interesting prospect. He’s only 22 years old and his athleticism and scoring-potential can’t be denied. On a fast paced team like the Kings, Walker could blossom. 

The first round pick would also be tempting for Sacramento. Even if the Spurs insist on a top ten or top twelve protection, a pick in the teens holds a lot of value. Other teams are sure to offer a first round pick for Barnes but those teams would likely be picking later than the Spurs. Going with San Antonio’s deal gives the Kings a tangible prospect in Walker and a first rounder that is unlikely to be in the 20s.