It's a shame that shooting guard James Anderson has encouraged the Spurs to trade him. It's also quite interesting that Anderson's agent, whose client is only one year removed from being drafted with the No. 20 pick in the 2010 Draft, has made his frustrations known to the public.
Like Steve Novak and Beno Udrih before him, PATFO have been very accommodating when their players have wanted to go to a different team. I expect them to do the same mostly because we have built solid depth at the SG/SF spots to withstand "giving" up on last year's No. 1 overall pick and because the Spurs value team chemistry and continuity over athletic ability. They don't want an unhappy player to inhabit the locker room and influence the team in a negative way. I'm not necessarily calling Anderson unfit to play for the Spurs (he's not that kind of player) but with his intentions public, it would be the ethical thing to let him attempt to salvage a career. Not to mention that his playing time has dwindled to nearly zero for stretches of the season.
Of course, PATFO are notorious for being extremely methodical and will not make any panic trades just because Anderson wants out. So, if I really had to choose, I'd bet on Anderson being traded somewhere before the trading deadline. But the Spurs could easily sit on their depth and, if injuries arise, increase Anderson's role on the team.
In reality, the combination of poor shooting (.386 FG%) and opportunity really hampered Anderson's ability to excel in Pop's system. Aside from lesser defense and less efficient percentages, his numbers actually compare reasonably well with Danny Green. I understand his frustration but I wish he was patient enough to endure the hardships because the potential growth learning under Coach Pop is enormous. Yes, I was looking forward to watching Anderson bloom into a solid player (not to mention CapHill's irrational obsession would endure) and his improvement this offseason even had Tony Parker impressed. I wish him luck in his future endeavors but just not against the Spurs.
Anyway, this gives Spurs fans the rare opportunity to break out the NBA Trade Machine and put on our RC Buford hats on for once. This doesn't happen often so, hey, that's pretty fun right?
Anderson and Matt Bonner to the Milwaukee Bucks for Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders.
Originally, I pondered sending Anderson and DeJuan Blair for Ilyasova and while that technically works, it has no realistic chance to get Ilyasova. Then I was intrigued by the possibility of sending Anderson and Bonner for Tobias Harris and Ilyasova but I felt acquiring Sanders, who fills a big hole on our team, would be best.
The Trade Machine estimates this trade would add about three wins to the current Spurs squad. This is one of those pipe dream trades that Spurs fans would absolutely love. The Spurs would be adding a six-foot-10 power forward capable of banging on the boards with just about anyone (5th among PF's in total rebound rate) and an athletic center, at six-foot-11, who is capable of stealing the ball at the same rate as TJ Ford (1.58 steals per 40 minutes) and protecting the rim (3.7 blocks per 40 minutes). The only justification for Milwaukee accepting this trade would be either their lack of depth at shooting guard, their fear of losing Ilyasova for nothing or general manger John Hammond coincidentally succumbing to alcoholism and signing off on the trade unknowingly. Let's hope Hammond finds that pristine bottle of wine somewhere.
Anderson to the Washington Wizards for Trevor Booker.
Booker is a high motor player that has stood out on an otherwise hopeless Wizards team. He can rebound well, create turnovers, block shots and doesn't require the ball on the offensive side. He's the prototypical glue player, one willing to do whatever necessary and would probably be a favorite of Pop's. I like the deal but I don't think this would help make the rotation any more concrete than it is today. We'd still be dealing with a lot of guys with the same skill sets and without the ability to play more than five guys at a time, it would be increasingly hard to satisfy everyone.
Anderson, Bonner, Richard Jefferson and Cory Joseph to the Phoenix Suns for Steve Nash.
Anderson and Blair to the Philadelphia 76ers for Nikola Vucevic.
Vucevic's modest 6.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and 0.8 blocks averages may seem modest but don't let that fool you. He's posting these numbers despite only 16.7 minutes per game. In reality, he's an elite defender and, if he qualified, his ridiculous 93 defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) would only be behind defensive beasts, Dwight Howard and Marcus Camby. He doesn't block shots (although 1.9 per 40 minutes isn't too shabby either) with the voracity of most centers but his defensive exploits are much more subtle. It is of no surprise that the majority of lineups with Vucevic at center allow less than one point per possession. Opposing centers against Vucevic manage a miniscule .489 eFG% and a 14.9 PER. At the age of 21, he has a lot of room to grow individually. Fun clutch statistic: (clutch is loosely defined as under five minutes of games when the margin is within five points), Vucevic has a 60.7 defensive rating. He'd be a realistic addition and would fill a need for the Spurs, but I have my doubts that Philly would seriously consider adding Anderson to their already crowded backcourt.
Anderson to the Denver Nuggets for Kenneth Faried.
The parallels between Faried's rookie season and Blair's rookie season are a little creepy. Both guys are undersized (six-foot-eight for Faried, six-foot-seven for Blair) power forwards who bring a lot of energy and solid rebounding. If the Spurs managed to land Faried that would be an absolute steal given the circumstances. Faried is currently 10th in minutes per game on the Nuggets, playing only eight percent of the time. While this wouldn't add any length per se, this would still be a good value trade especially because Faried doesn't have the deficiencies Blair did (and still does), namely turnovers, weight and defense.