With the NBA trade deadline less than a week away, the front office of the San Antonio Spurs was already very active. According to a source close to the team, San Antonio’s phone lines got even noisier following the news that Kyrie Irving has asked the Brooklyn Nets to trade him.
“It’s an extremely busy room right now,” the source explained. “There’s a lot of talk and there’s a lot of pressure being applied from a number of different angles.”
Why are the Spurs suddenly fielding so many calls following the Irving news? First of all, the Spurs have the most cap space of any team in the NBA. San Antonio has approximately $27 million in cap space — no other team has more than $9 million in cap space. Previously, the Indiana Pacers also had a lot of cap space but they used most of it when giving Myles Turner a contract extension.
Secondly, I’ve been told that the Spurs have players who the Nets would value in a multi-team trade involving Irving. According to an insider, the Nets have specifically told teams they’d be most interested in Josh Richardson and Zach Collins from the Spurs. Collins hasn’t previously been included in many trade talks but I’ve been told that the Spurs would be open to trading him in the right deal.
-Brooklyn is reportedly telling teams they want to remain competitive but that they don’t want to add to their luxury tax bill. That’s where San Antonio’s unique ability to absorb unwanted contracts into their salary cap space comes in handy.
The Nets are also telling teams that they want to avoid adding long-term contracts to their books. That could partially explain their interest in Richardson and Collins because neither player is owed any guaranteed money beyond this season.
-As SpursTalk previously reported, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Spurs have remained in contact regarding a possible Russell Westbrook trade. A Spurs insider tells me that the Kyrie Irving trade demand has accelerated those talks.
On the surface, a three-team trade involving the Spurs, Lakers and Nets makes sense. The Spurs are open to absorbing Westbrook’s contract for the right package of draft picks. The Lakers covet Irving and remain interested in Jakob Poeltl, Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson. The Nets could be moved by the luxury tax savings the Spurs can provide and are interested in Zach Collins and Richardson.
However, a source tells me that a disagreement regarding draft pick compensation is a major stumbling block for this particular trade. Both the Spurs and the Nets are asking the Lakers for two first round draft picks in any deal. The Lakers only have a total of two first rounders to trade — and a source tells me that it’s not even clear if the Lakers are willing to trade both picks in order to acquire Irving.
-A Spurs insider tells me the Los Angeles Clippers are another team who has contacted the Spurs about potentially putting together a three-team trade. The exact terms of the deal are unclear but it included Kyrie Irving ending up on the Clippers and the Spurs receiving a first round pick to absorb an unwanted contract.
However, the same source tells me that Clippers have made other offers to the Nets that don’t include the Spurs.
-Multiple individuals I have talked to tell me the Nets are warning teams that they will move quickly to trade Irving and won’t necessarily wait until Thursday’s trade deadline to strike a deal. Between the Irving trade discussions and working on possible Jakob Poeltl deals, it’s safe to say that San Antonio’s front office won’t get much sleep in the coming days.