With the 2022 NBA Draft tomorrow night and the San Antonio Spurs armed with four picks, the phone lines are hotter than ever in South Texas. Trade rumors of all varieties are swirling. Are the Spurs looking to trade up from ninth pick? Do they want to move the 20th or 25th selections? What are their plans at 38? Here are the latest Spurs trade rumors making the rounds behind the scenes.
1) According to multiple sources, the Spurs contacted the Sacramento Kings regarding the fourth overall pick in the draft. The Kings are said to have asked for Keldon Johnson and the ninth pick in return for the fourth pick. It’s unclear if that specific deal is still on table but the sources say the Spurs and Kings are still discussing a possible trade. That said, the Kings are reportedly in discussions with at least a half dozen teams with regard to that pick.
2) National media reports indicate that the Spurs would target Keegan Murray if they move up to the fourth spot. Various scouts I’ve talked to insist that wouldn’t be the case.
“If the Spurs pay top dollar for Sac’s pick, they’re not drafting [Keegan Murray], they’re drafting [Jaden] Ivey,” texted one Western Conference scout.
3) Would the Spurs really trade Keldon Johnson and the ninth pick for the fourth pick? That’d be a whole lot to relinquish to move up five spots — but it’s possible.
First of all, though, you don’t make that trade to draft Murray. Trading Johnson for Murray would be an ill-advised deal — much less throwing in the ninth pick. Murray’s a strong prospect but there’s a very real chance he never becomes better than Johnson is right now — and Johnson still has room to grow.
But if the Spurs see Ivey as a possible franchise player with superstar upside, then you make that trade. I like Ivey’s fit next to Dejounte Murray. Ivey’s elite athleticism is astonishing to watch in real time. I don’t see him as a franchise player — but if San Antonio’s front office disagrees and sees a diamond in the rough, then Johnson and nine is a trade you have to complete.
4) One source told me that the Oklahoma City Thunder gauged San Antonio’s interest on a deal that consisted of Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell, the ninth pick and a future unprotected first rounder from the Spurs for the second overall pick. That call, he says, was short-lived.
5) I’ve been told that a Jakob Poeltl trade could happen during the draft but it’s not especially likely. San Antonio’s current asking price is three separate assets. For example, two first round picks and a promising young player is reportedly what it’d take right now.
Josh Richardson is another player who could be moved during the draft. The Spurs want a first round pick in return and may consider absorbing a suboptimal contract in return to make that happen.
6) Teams that called the Spurs about the 20th pick report that the Spurs want two future first rounders in return. Rival teams believe that the price tag will drop once the draft begins. One source predicted that if the Spurs look to trade the pick, the best San Antonio will get is a single future first round selection that is top ten protected.
7) Interestingly, there’s talk of the Spurs packaging 25 and 38 when discussing trades. In such a scenario, the Spurs could look to trade the 25th pick and the 38th pick for a future first rounder with minimal protections.
8) Teams who want to move up in the draft are circling the Spurs because they don’t believe that San Antonio will enter next season with four rookies. The Spurs, on the other hand, are insisting that they are enthralled by the depth of the draft and won’t trade any of their picks unless they receive their asking price. It’ll be fascinating to see how this plays out.
9) In theory, the Spurs can opt to consolidate their picks. For instance, it could make sense to trade 20 and 25 for a pick in the teens. In reality, that’s easier said than done because sources say teams in the teens don’t want multiple first round picks in the 20s. Instead, teams in the teens would want something like 20 and a future first rounder — and that’s not something the Spurs are interested in doing.
10) The Spurs have had zero leaks so far regarding their true intentions in the lottery so that has unintentionally increased the value of the eighth pick owned by the New Orleans Pelicans. A scout whose team is interested in Ousmane Dieng believes his team needs to get ahead of the Spurs in order to guarantee getting Dieng. With the Spurs “playing hardball” (his words, not mine) at nine, that team has moved on to talking deals with the Pelicans.
11) Do I think the Spurs will make a trade? I think it is actually pretty likely. With four picks, San Antonio should have the ammunition to grab at least a couple of their primary targets. For example, trading 25 and 38 to move up a couple spots to get a player they really like is a no-brainer due to their vast collection of picks.
Alternatively, it’s a tempting plan to auction off 20 and 25 to teams willing to give up future first round picks that don’t come with onerous protections. Due to the uncommon job security enjoyed by San Antonio’s front office, trading the 25th pick for something like a 2028 first round pick that is only top five protected could be enticing for all parties involved.