Last month, the San Antonio Spurs took all trade proposals off the table as the franchise dealt with the Joshua Primo bombshell. Now that the Primo situation is settled, multiple sources tell me that the Spurs are once again open for business on the trade market.
While no specific trade is imminent, all indications point to the fact that the Spurs are as active on the trade front as they’ve been since the start of training camp.
-The player that the Spurs get the most inquiries about is Jakob Poeltl. San Antonio’s asking price for Poeltl continues to be a pair of first round picks with limited protections.
According to a pair of sources, the two teams most persistent about acquiring Poeltl are the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors. The talks with the Raptors date back to last season’s trade deadline, but Toronto remains hesitant to offer anything more than a package highlighted by a single first round draft pick with moderate protections.
The Warriors, on the other hand, are said to be primarily interested in finding a way to flip James Wiseman for Poeltl. However, sources say the Spurs have indicated to the Warriors that they aren’t interested in Wiseman as a centerpiece of a Poeltl trade. I’m also hearing that the Spurs aren’t high on Jonathan Kuminga either, which means a deal with the Warriors will likely only get done if Golden State is willing to part with sufficient draft capital.
Interestingly, I’m told the Spurs actually value Moses Moody more than Wiseman or Kuminga but that they’d still want a lot more in a trade involving Poeltl.
-If the Spurs don’t get their asking price for Poeltl, expect the team to hold onto him instead of selling him to the highest bidder at the trade deadline. While preparing for Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio has come to the conclusion that Poeltl would be a perfect fit next to the young Frenchman.
-Another interesting development is word that Poeltl may prefer to stay with the Spurs. To make sure that happens, he would sign a four-year, $58 million extension. That’s the maximum amount of money the Spurs could give him in an extension during the season.
If Poeltl waits until the summer, a handful of NBA scouts I talked to believe he could land a four-year contract worth around $70 million. That $12 million difference may be enough to convince Poeltl to wait until the offseason to sign his next contract. Then again, if Poeltl likes his situation in San Antonio and wants to mitigate injury risk, he may go ahead and ink the $58 million extension.
-The Spurs continue to request a first round draft pick in return for Josh Richardson, which has basically been the asking price since San Antonio acquired him from the Boston Celtics.
As far as Doug McDermott is concerned, a Spurs insider tells me that the front office would prefer to keep him around. Unless a team offers a first rounder for McDermott, expect him to stick beyond the trade deadline.
-Recently, the Spurs rearranged their deck chairs by cutting Jordan Hall and signing Alize Johnson. The motivation for this deep roster move was to provide big man depth following recent injuries to Poeltl, Jeremy Sochan and Keita Bates-Diop.
With Poeltl and Sochan expected back soon, sources say the Spurs are likely to cut Johnson and sign a perimeter player. Who would the Spurs sign?
One option would be to bring back Hall again. In his second game with the Austin Spurs in the G League, the undrafted rookie exploded for 33 points, 12 rebounds and three assists on 12-for-18 shooting from the field and 9-for-12 shooting from three-point range.
Another player the Spurs have spent time scouting recently is Jared Butler. The former Baylor guard is currently in the G League. At one point in time, he was expected to be a first round pick but he ultimately fell to the second round of the 2021 draft — likely due to heart-related medical concerns.
The most famous name I’ve heard linked to the Spurs in recent weeks is Isaiah Thomas. The diminutive guard who’s mostly known for his time with the Boston Celtics is currently out of the NBA. However, scouts who have seen the 33-year-old recently say he’s in great shape.
Why would the Spurs sign Thomas? An insider tells me that the Spurs may bring in a veteran like Thomas if the coaching staff feels like the scoring burden on Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell becomes too overwhelming.
Johnson and Vassell are both averaging more than 20 points per game but inefficiency has become an issue recently, particularly with regard to Johnson. Thomas, in theory, could help lighten the load.