The trade deadline is approaching fast. We already have a big move on the books, as Kristaps Porzingis was traded to the Mavericks, and could have an even bigger one in the horizon as the Anthony Davis sweepstakes heat up. There should be a lot of activity in the next few days.
The Spurs have been largely quiet, as they are wont to do. That doesn’t mean they are not working the phones. They are not known for shaking things up mid-season but would surely be willing to do so if the right opportunity presented itself.
With that in mind, here’s everything a Spurs fan needs to know to navigate this period of reports and rumors without getting lost.
Big names on the market
Anthony Davis. The Brow has infamously requested a trade. The Lakers appear to be his desired destination, but the Pelicans are reportedly playing hard ball. He might remain in New Orleans until the offseason.
Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. The Grizzlies are taking offers on their stalwarts after a disappointing season. The Jazz and Pistons have interest in Conley, according to reports. Gasol is likely headed to Charlotte, but a deal hasn’t been finalized yet.
Other players reportedly on the block: J.R. Smith (Cavaliers), Alec Burks (Cavaliers), Nikola Mirotic, Julius Randle and E’Twaun Moore (Pelicans), DeAndre Jordan (Knicks), Robin Lopez (Bulls).
The Spurs need everything and nothing. They could use some upgrades as they enter the final stage of the regular season, but they are trying to thread the needle between reloading and competing, which means they will be reluctant to part with their young pieces to get them. They might be buyers at the deadline, but only if they find an opportunity that is too good to pass up or if a player they’ve coveted in the past becomes available.
If they do decide to make a small deal to shore up a specific position, it would likely involve getting a forward. They only have one big wing in their rotation in Rudy Gay, as Dante Cunningham has lost his minutes and Quincy Pondexter never found his way into a consistent role. If they can find a big forward they like more than those two for cheap, they’ll probably pull the trigger.
Spurs’ cap situation
The Spurs have no cap room and no trade exceptions. They are about a million under the luxury tax line. They are unlikely to be willing to cross it, so they probably won’t take significantly more salary that they send out on a potential trade.
If they do decide to add salary, they can only add around $7 million before hitting the apron, which essentially works as a hard cap. Fortunately that scenario would only come in play in a huge multi-player deal, which is not likely to occur mid-season.
San Antonio has some intriguing veterans players on good deals beyond their two stars, who are presumably untouchable. They lack a big expiring contract but only $6.7 million of Pau Gasol’s $16 million deal are guaranteed next season. Davis Bertans and Marco Belinelli are on affordable contracts and Bryn Forbes is vastly underpaid. All three of them could help a playoff team. It’s hard to see the Spurs part with any of them, but for the right piece, they might be willing to.
In terms of young players, the Spurs don’t have a true blue-chipper, but they have several good prospects. The best of the bunch right now is clearly Derrick White, who is having a breakout season. Dejounte Murray was one of the best defenders at his position last season but he’s recovering from an ACL tear, which lowers his value. Jakob Poeltl doesn’t seem to have a lot of untapped potential but he’s a solid backup center already. Lonnie Walker IV has the tools to be a very good two-way wing but is still raw. All of them should intrigue other franchises.
The Spurs have rights to all of their future first round draft picks and they also own the Raptors’ 2019 first round pick (top 20 protected). They owe the Jazz a second rounder in 2022 from the Boris Diaw trade, but are in possession of all their other future second rounders.
Players which have been linked to the Spurs
Kristaps Porzingis. Before The Unicorn was traded to the Mavericks the Spurs were rumored to be involved in talks with the Knicks, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
Aaron Gordon. The Spurs were named as a potential landing spot for the combo forward by ESPN’s Zach Lowe. It was more speculation than reporting, but it probably didn’t come out of nowhere. Gordon is young enough to fit the timeline of the younger players on the team while productive enough to contribute right away at both forward spots. He’ll have plenty of suitors and the Magic might not be ready to move him. It’s understandable for the Spurs to be interested but it might be hard for them to actually get him.
Stanley Johnson. For the second year in a row the Spurs have been linked to Johnson near the deadline. Johnson was a lottery pick but hasn’t lived up to his potential, never finding his outside shot and disappearing for long stretches in his time in Detroit. Spurs assistant GM Brian Wright, who was with the Pistons when Johnson was drafted, is probably behind the persistent interest in the combo forward, according to The Athletic’s Jabari Young.
We’ll update this primer when new information becomes available.