The idea of a Spurs trade right now is absurd. They're capped out to smithereens after signing Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge to max deals and giving Danny Green eight figures a year as well. Their most movable guys are Green, Boris Diaw and Patty Mills, and all three are pretty ingrained into the team's culture, to the point where it's hard to see any of them leave. Green is too valuable defensively and one of the few three-point shooters on the roster. Diaw is their best post scorer and versatile enough to play against any lineup. He doesn't get enough credit for being the guy who swung the 2014 title. Mills is not only a much-needed spark plug off the bench, but with Tony Parker's health and stamina always in question and no Cory Joseph in relief, he's too vital to part with.
The only rumor associated to the Spurs so far is this bit of nonsense involving Green and Al Horford. The money works, and obviously the organizations have a good relationship with one another, and sure, I'll even buy the idea of PATFO having reached the end of their patience with Green's brain farts in games. Who knows, maybe Tim Duncan's knee will never be right and they need Horford just to give themselves a starting center for the playoffs.
Where the trade falls off logistically is that Horford doesn't seem like an ideal fit, for several reasons. For one, he will be an unrestricted free agent. The Spurs would be taking quite the leap of faith risking losing Green for three months of Horford and then nothing if he doesn't re-sign. They've shown in the past that they've been willing to gamble, like this past summer when they risked losing Tiago Splitter (and Duncan and Manu Ginobili, to retirements) for what the bird left on the rock if Aldridge chose the Suns instead in free agency.
Then there's the matter of Horford's game being almost identical to Aldridge's in that he mostly likes to shoot mid-range jumpers and fancies himself as more of a four than a five. He'd be yet another great-not-superstar player to give a max contract to that would tie up the Spurs cap between now and when we're all worm food, and thus not the best allocation of resources.
Finally, the whole fake trade is built on the hypothetical that PATFO is ready to hand the starting shooting guard job to Jonathon Simmons, whom I adore even though he's not yet shown he's ready for that kind of promotion. He tries hard on defense, but isn't very good at it yet for the simple fact that he doesn't know the league, doesn't know different guys' strengths and tendencies, and still gets fooled fairly often. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty intrigued by the idea of him playing with the starters and the different passing/slashing dimensions he could add to that group. It's fun to think of all the points he'd get in transition, but I think the drop-off defensively would produce diminishing returns, and I doubt Pop feels differently in this case.
So what other scenarios then?
An easy narrative would be to welcome back Marco Belinelli into the fold. The Kings are reportedly *ahem* dangling him, and he would help fill the void with Ginobili's injury and add another shooter and playmaker off the bench. Unfortunately, he's making over $6 million these days so the Spurs have no way to trade for him short of dealing away Mills or Diaw. No, thank you.
Surely there's got to be something they can do to improve the club, right? Well, after scouring the rosters and tinkering with ESPN.com's NBA Trade Machine all night, I've come up with three moves that will never happen in this universe, but would all fit the bill of actually improving the Spurs -- as difficult as that is to do. So I will now pretend to treat these options seriously, because reasons.
1. Danny Green and Boris Diaw for Kevin Durant.
Now, I know what you're thinking. There's all kinds of reasons why this trade doesn't make sense for the Spurs. Durant is about to be a free agent, just like the aforementioned Horford. He's kind of a pill. He even admitted he didn't deserve the MVP award in 2014. It would leave San Antonio with a hole at shooting guard. Losing Green would significantly hurt the defense and we'd miss Diaw's multifaceted game.
I still think the positives outweigh the negatives. Twos and threes are pretty much interchangeable anyway, so we can slide Leonard over to the two. Durant can really punish teams who leave him wide open to load up on Kawhi. I think he'd fit in well with the team's professional, no-nonsense culture and really appreciate having a good coach for once. And like Aldridge, he is a former Longhorn, so he must have some fondness for Texas, even though he only lived here for a year.
With this move the Spurs would improve by 10 wins according to the trade machine, so I think that would technically make them undefeated now. That's just math.
2. Tony Parker for Stephen Curry (of the Golden State Warriors).
It seems like sacrilege to trade away one of "The Big Three," but just hear me out. I realize most of you just watch Spurs games and may not have the pulse of the rest of the league but I really feel this Curry kid is going to be a special player. Not many people know about him yet, but I'm telling you, he can really, really shoot it, and he's got a pretty good handle too. He's a few years younger than Tony also, and let's face it, we've got to start thinking about the future. Pop has been putting more and more of the play-making burden on Leonard's shoulders anyway, so it would make sense to surround him with better shooters. As for the Warriors, it'd be a no-brainer move for them, obviously. They have enough shooting. What they need is a sure-fire future Hall-of-Fame point guard to give them some veteran experience and leadership and guide that directionless, unfocused crew.
With this move the Spurs would improve by 14 wins, which means they automatically earn a first-round bye in the playoffs.
3. Mills, Kyle Anderson and Boban Marjanovic for Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns and Andre Miller.
Dealing away fan favorites like Mills and Boban for some unproven rookie seems excessive, but again I'm trying to think like R.C. Buford here and be proactive about the future. It's not just about this season, you know? I did some scouting of Towns over the weekend and he's pretty skilled for a big. I feel he'd pair nicely with Aldridge and let him play his preferred power-forward spot and would be someone whom Duncan could groom to be a successor. As for the Wolves, I think they need to admit that it's just not working with Towns. He's not inspiring the fanbase over there, not winning games, and they've already got Gorgui Dieng doing some things. I feel the charismatic Boban would really sell some tickets up north, Mills would improve their bench and Anderson would give them a starting small-forward to build around for the next decade to go with Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Ricky Rubio. That's a formidable cast of perimeter guys right there.
It would only improve the Spurs by three wins according to the trade machine, but that's just because it doesn't see the potential for Towns that I do. You really have to watch other teams to pick up on this nuanced stuff, folks.
(For reals though, I spent time looking for trades. There's nothing there. The people I like are too pricey and the people I don't like, I don't like).