With training camp a little more than a week away, the San Antonio Spurs front office remains busy. While nothing that would happen in the next week could compare to the Dejounte Murray trade, insiders close to the team tell me that the Spurs are very active in trade talks.
1) Despite currently having 20 players on their roster, the maximum allowed during the offseason, the Spurs are still able to open approximately $30 million in salary cap space if necessary. Since the beginning of the offseason, San Antonio’s goal has been to utilize that cap space by absorbing unwanted contracts from other teams in exchange for draft compensation.
Unfortunately for the Spurs, such deals haven’t materialized. According to sources around the league, San Antonio’s asking price has dropped in recent weeks — yet there are still no imminent deals.
Scouts for rival teams say the Spurs lost leverage due to multiple factors. First, the Indiana Pacers also have around $30 million in salary cap space after missing out on Deandre Ayton and are also willing to absorb bad contracts for draft compensation. That has allowed teams looking to dump salary to force the Spurs and Pacers to compete against each other during trade discussions.
Second, with the Utah Jazz diving headlong into a rebuild after trading away Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz have become another franchise willing to take on an unwanted contract in exchange for draft picks. Moreover, the Jazz have a few veteran players contending teams covet, which is helpful when talking trades with the elite teams in the league.
Third, with the market now dry of superstars looking for a new home prior to training camp, scouts around the league say teams are willing to wait until next summer to shed unwanted contracts. With a multitude of teams in line to be far under the salary cap next offseason, the cost of trading away bad contracts is expected to drop even more.
2) At one point in time, the Spurs were in talks with the Los Angeles Lakers to absorb Russell Westbrook’s contract. In that scenario, San Antonio was to be compensated with multiple draft picks. Currently, a source close to the Spurs says the two teams are no longer engaged in active talks due to the Lakers preferring offers by both the Pacers and the Jazz.
According to a Western Conference scout, the Lakers are telling teams that they will take a wait and see approach to trading Westbrook as training camp approaches. If the Lakers decide to trade Westbrook at some point down the line, the Spurs remain one of the few teams in the league open to such a deal.
3) Sources say Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson are the two Spurs players most commonly involved in trade talk. While the Spurs have dropped their asking price for the utilization of their salary cap space, their asking price for Poeltl and Richardson remains high. For Richardson, the Spurs are requesting a first round pick. For Poeltl, the Spurs are asking for two first rounders.
Although it’s definitely possible that the Spurs trade Poeltl and/or Richardson before the start of the regular season, a team insider tells me the franchise is willing to hold onto both players until the trade deadline if that’s what it takes to get an acceptable package in return.
“There’s no rush,” said the insider of trade talks involving Poeltl. “It has to be the right deal.”
4) I’m told the Spurs have shopped Doug McDermott this summer but they have only received lukewarm interest. Rival scouts insist that McDermott has a negative trade value due to the two years and $27.5 million he has remaining on his contract. However, the Spurs aren’t interested in attaching an asset to McDermott in order to move him.