Spurs Should Pursue the Atypical; Forge Trade Noise


In the early going of the 2020-21 NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs have trumped expectations so far, braving adversity to carve out a winning record in the deep and brutal Western Conference.

While winning is not nascent for the Silver and Black, the current Spurs are a shell of what they used to be. Since 2017, championship contention has been elusive for the storied franchise. In the past three seasons, San Antonio clinched a playoff spot twice and lost in the first round and missed once to break a record-tying 22 straight postseason streak.

In the modern NBA, the echelon is clear. Teams either contend or tank. Those stuck in the middle are in the least-envied situation. The Spurs find themselves among a gutter of teams stubbornly jockeying for the inimical position. To corral itself away from mediocrity, it should veer away from its customs and engulf in the market noise.

The midseason trade deadline has always been a blurry proposition for Popovich and co. (the last midseason trade for the team was the minuscule Nando de Colo-Austin Daye swap in 2014). Stability, winning and loyalty have given them apt reason to do so. In the seams of a rebuild, however, GM Brian Wright and the front office should maximize its expiring assets to speed up their “competitive” rebuild and refrain from tradition.

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Spurs veteran group has great market value

DeMar DeRozan, undoubtedly San Antonio’s best player, is a fantastic scorer and facilitator who can serve as a second or third option on a contending team. It is doubtful that the 4x All-Star would pivot to re-signing and exhaust his prime towards anchoring a rebuild. In the lack of mutual commitment, the Spurs would be better off turning his good value into future assets.

Orlando has the makings of a perfect trade partner with their plethora of big men the team could use. A package of Evan Fournier and Mo Bamba, or Aaron Gordon and draft compensation, should make this a welcome sight.

LaMarcus Aldridge, only a season and a half away from an All-Star appearance, should garner interest in the league, even at 35. His sweet shooting should make contenders who lack floor-spacing big men, such as Boston and Miami, gleam with interest. If SAS can liquidate him through a draft pick and a young asset (say Robert Williams or KZ Okpala), then the green lights should be on.

Rudy Gay is another player worth exploring the market for. The veteran tweener could serve as a valuable scorer and small-ball option for a team like Miami, Philadelphia or Brooklyn. San Antonio, in a hypothetical trade, should agree to flip him for a big man or a draft pick and an expiring contract. However, the market for him may be thinner than expected.

Perhaps the market may be more attractive for longtime Spur Patty Mills. The veteran gunner should be a lucrative target for teams in want of a solid back-up and spot-up shooter. Think of Philadelphia or the LA teams (I hate to say it), which could be solid fits for the Aussie guard. It should be noted though that the Spurs brass consider him the leader of the pack, so entertaining trade offers may be faint.


For SAS, this year’s trade deadline may be the biggest yet

Letting these veterans walk for nothing to preserve cap space may be tempting, but San Antonio is not a premiere free-agent destination. The Spurs are positioned to contend in the future, but not in the present. Amplifying their rebuild around the young core should be the pivot of this franchise to return to basketball glory.

For San Antonio, March 25 is a day worth marking down. This trade deadline figures to be the most important one for the Silver and Black that has long been spoiled by stability.

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