Explaining the Trey Lyles Trade That Wasn’t: What Happened with the Trade Between Spurs and Mavs?

For a few moments, it appeared as if the San Antonio Spurs had made a somewhat notable trade on the NBA trade deadline. Shams Charania tweeted that Trey Lyles had been traded from the Spurs to the Dallas Mavericks in a three-team trade that also involved JJ Redick going to the Mavs from the New Orleans Hornets.

However, moments later, Charania deleted the tweet. As it turns out, JJ Redick is still going from the Pelicans to the Mavs — but it’s only a two team deal. 

What Would the Spurs Have Gotten in the Trey Lyles Trade?

The finalized Redick trade turned out to be Redick and Nicolo Melli from the Pelicans to the Mavericks for James Johnson, West Iwundu and a draft pick in the second round.

That makes it clear that the Spurs were looking to trade Lyles to the Mavs and likely would have received Melli and Iwundu. Since Iwundu has a guaranteed minimum contract next season, the Spurs were probably also asking for cash and/or a second round pick. At some point before the finish line, the Spurs apparently decided to back out of the deal. Or, alternatively, the Mavs and Pelicans decided to do the deal without the Spurs.

How Would Nicolo Melli and Wes Iwundu Have Helped the Spurs?

Truthfully, it’s unlikely that either player would have been of much help. Last season, Melli played well at times as a rookie but he has been bad this season. The 30-year-old from Italy is primarily known for his shooting but he has hit just 25.4% of his shots this season, including 7-of-37 three-pointers.

Iwundu is in a similar boat. After a solid couple seasons with the Orlando Magic, he’s been bad this season with the Mavs. He has hit only 32.7% of his shots and just 3-of-23 three-pointers.

That said, both Melli and Iwundu would have been good enough to serve as deep bench depth — which is more important than usual in this unusual season.

Why Would the Spurs Have Done the Trade, Then?

First, Lyles has fallen out of the rotation. At this point, he’s even behind Luka Samanic — and even Samanic doesn’t currently have a spot in the rotation when Rudy Gay is available.

Secondly, the Spurs likely would have gotten some sort of sweetener in the deal. Cash and/or a second round pick for a player they don’t have much use for made sense. Ultimately, though, the Spurs weren’t needed for the Mavs and the Pelicans to complete the deal.

Did the Spurs ask for too much to facilitate the trade? We’ll never know but it’s safe to say they were asking for something. Now we’ll see if they look to buy out Lyles’ contract or simply keep him around for extra depth.