The draft is mere hours away and the Spurs keep showing up on rumors about trading up. First Alex Kennedy from Basketball Insiders mentioned it, then NBADraft.net. Recently ESPN's Chad Ford mentioned that San Antonio is looking to get the 13th pick from the Phoenix Suns. There hasn't been this much buzz about the Spurs going into draft day since the 2011, when they did in fact pulled off a move that netted them Kawhi Leonard.
It really seems like there's a possibility the Spurs will look to make a deal on draft day. Can they and, more importantly, should they? Let's take a look.
A trade that closes the window makes no sense
This draft is short on stars but deep on role players. That's the consensus. Without having spent as much time scouting prospect as the experts have, that's my opinion as well. There's just a lot of intriguing players that are flawed. Then again, that's what was said about Kawhi Leonard when he dropped all the way down to the 15th pick. San Antonio's front office has earned every fan's trust by now.
Yet a move up 15 spots or so won't come cheap. This team won 67 games last season and Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili could still return. Leonard should get better while there are other core players in their prime. If trading up means making a big sacrifice in the immediate future, it might not be worth it. The Warriors seemed unbeatable at times this past season only to be taken to seven games by Oklahoma City and vanquished by the Cavaliers.
If the Spurs do move one of their rotation players, they better be sure they are getting someone who can make a similar impact right away, because their window is open now.
If it comes cheap, the Spurs should go for it
There's no need to be coy about it. The big chip the Spurs have to trade is Danny Green. If they make Green available, they could get in the lottery, in all likelihood. Would the Kings pass up a chance to finally get the 3-and-D wing they've needed for years? Would the Raptors take a rookie with the ninth pick or essentially go for a better Terrence Ross? The Bulls, Suns and Hawks would also likely be interested. Green is a great trade asset.
The fact that no trade has been completed, however, point to the fact that the Spurs are actually not likely trying to move him. In Ford's article, he claims that both the Spurs and the Clippers are trying to trade for the 13th pick. The Clippers have zero trade assets, so they would never be able to have a bidding war with the Spurs if San Antonio is offering Green. That means the Spurs are probably trying to take advantage of teams with multiple picks and no need for young talent to try and trade up without giving up one of their core players.
If R.C. Buford can convince any team picking in the lottery to cede their selection for any combination or Patty Mills, Kyle Anderson, this year's 29th pick or next year's first round pick, the Spurs should absolutely go for it. Even if they don't get a big upgrade, they could have a quality prospect locked up for the next four years.
Could Parker be on the move?
I should preface it by saying I don't think it will happen. It would truly shock me to see Parker being moved. At worst, his contract will expire and he will leave in free agency, if he's not in the Spurs' plans then. A franchise that has built a culture around loyalty and pushes the message that people in it are family doesn't kick a four-time champion to the curb. I said before and I'll say it again: if Parker is traded, we'll have to reevaluate what we think we know about the Spurs.
The fact that the Hawks moved Jeff Teague for the 12th pick does open up a fascinating -- if unlikely -- scenario. If the Spurs do decide to move on from Parker, they will make sure he lands in a good situation. What better place than Atlanta, where he will reunite with Mike Budenholzer and get to mentor Dennis Schroder for a year while starting and competing for a playoff spot?
If they keep Al Horford, add Parker and convince Batum to leave Charlotte, the Hawks could make a deep run in the East and Tony would enter the last year of his contract as a likely starter or sixth man. The Spurs, meanwhile, would clear enough cap room to sign Mike Conley to a maximum salary and could use the 12th pick to add some more young depth.
This is most definitely not going to happen but it's the best case scenario for those who want to see the Spurs move on from Parker.
Moving up a few spots might be the right play
Moving up to the lottery will likely take trading Green, as it's hard to see teams at the range going for a package centered around Mills. A Parker trade, as fun as it might be to imagine it in a weird way, is extremely unlikely. The Spurs will likely pick 29th, unless they lower their aims. A trade for a pick in the low 20s seems very easy to pull off and it could allow them to take a player that is high on their draft board.
The Hawks have the 21st pick, the Celtics the 23rd and the 76ers the 24th. All three teams will be picking higher earlier in the night. They might be amenable to moving those picks and the prize might simply be a future first and/or Anderson. Slowmo has improved but was still not a rotation player last season and San Antonio will likely pick late in the first round in 2017. If there's someone they want that is dropping, there will likely be an opportunity to get them at those slots.
Again, outside of the top 10 or so, this draft is wide open, It's entirely possible for a projected lottery pick to be there are 21. We saw it with Bobby Portis last season. If that happens, the Spurs have to at least make some calls.
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There's always noise around this time a year. The rumors suggest the Spurs are looking to move up but we don't know how motivated they are. Hopefully they will nail this decision like they have so many in the past. We'll know soon enough.