With the NBA trade deadline less than 24 hours away, the San Antonio Spurs have yet to make a move. It’s no secret that the Spurs are trying to trade LaMarcus Aldridge, who left the team after a decision was reached for the Spurs to either trade him or complete a contract buyout. Beyond Aldridge, there’s speculation that DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Patty Mills and even Trey Lyles could be on the trading block.
Let’s start with Gay. While he’s not the biggest name on the list, there’s an interesting tidbit making the rounds. According to a league source, the Spurs were offered two second round picks along with an expiring contract in return for Gay. San Antonio not only turned it down, the source insists that the Spurs didn’t make a counteroffer.
If true, that could be a sign that the Spurs don’t view themselves as sellers at the trade deadline. By not even countering the proposal, San Antonio is signaling that they’re more interested in their playoff run than maximizing the value of their expiring deals.
The other option is the Spurs are waiting until Thursday before they start getting serious about potential deals.
While a lot of teams could use a veteran power forward who can shoot the ball, finding a landing spot for Gay is difficult — especially if we factor in the assumption that the Spurs don’t value second round picks and that other teams aren’t giving up a first rounder for Gay. In that circumstance, I only see two possible trades:
-Rudy Gay to the Brooklyn Nets for Spencer Dinwiddie and a filler contract. If the Nets don’t find a better use for Dinwiddie’s expiring deal, acquiring a win-now piece like Gay makes some sense. Though Dinwiddie is out for the season with a torn ACL and will opt out of his contract in the summer, the Spurs could still be tempted to pull the trigger. In the offseason, the Spurs could re-sign Dinwiddie or use him in a sign-and-trade. Either way, trading for him represents much more value than even a pair of second round picks.
-Rudy Gay to the Miami Heat for Andre Iguodala. If the Heat are desperate to upgrade their offense, this is a trade the Spurs would likely consider. The Spurs have previously targeted Iguodala in free agency for his defense, leadership and unselfishness. For a team with playoff aspirations, those remain valuable traits.
The Spurs insist that they have multiple offers on the table for Aldridge. According to sources, not many people around the league believe that to be true. Other teams are already planning on Aldridge being bought out and becoming a free agent.
Unless the Spurs add sweeteners to an Aldridge deal, the most they could probably hope to get back is a second round pick attached to expiring contracts. If sweeteners are added, that opens the door to bigger trades featuring the likes of Harrison Barnes.
One source speculates that the Bulls could be an option for Aldridge if the rumors are true about Chicago shopping Lauri Markkanen. If the Bulls trade Markkanen, a trade of Aldridge straight up for Otto Porter Jr. suddenly makes a lot of sense. Chicago could offer Aldridge a starting gig and hope that the veteran big could help power their youthful team to the playoffs.
If Markkanen isn’t traded, the Spurs could be open to pairing a second round pick with Aldridge to get Porter. The 6-foot-8 forward fits well with the Spurs on paper and San Antonio could view the 27-year-old as a part of their core going forward. That said, due to question marks regarding Porter’s health and uneven play, the Spurs would be unlikely to give up anything beyond a second round pick and Aldridge’s expiring deal to get him.
There have been rumblings in the media that the Spurs are shopping DeRozan. From what I’ve heard, that’s simply not the case. The Spurs are listening but they’d have to be blown away by a trade offer to move DeRozan. There’s speculation from outside of the team that even a first round pick might not be enough for the Spurs to part with him.
San Antonio still values winning and they value nurturing a winning culture around their young players. DeRozan is seen as an asset on both fronts. Even though there’s a very real possibility that the Spurs lose him for nothing in free agency, they appear to want to keep him around for the current playoff push.
Obviously, this could change — particularly if DeRozan asks for a trade. But unless something unforeseen happens between now and the deadline, I expect him to remain on the Spurs.
As previously mentioned, Mills may very well have the most value of any of the expiring contracts the Spurs could trade. He’s a playoff-ready piece that fits well on any contender in the league.
But much like DeRozan, the Spurs don’t see any reason to part with Mills unless they’re proposed a deal they simply can’t refuse. Unless it’s one of these two trades, I see Mills staying with the Spurs and possibly even re-signing with the team in the offseason.
Could Lyles ask the Spurs to buy out his contract if he’s not thrown into a trade at the deadline? Yeah, I guess it’s possible. Then again, he’d be better served to stick around and hope that he wins back Pop’s trust. There’s a chance he could start games again for the Spurs this season. I doubt any other team in the league is lining up ready to offer Lyles a path to their starting lineup.