As the NBA Finals rage on, most teams are already looking into the offseason. The uncertainty surrounding the 2021 season has slowed down the typically busy trade and free agency rumor mill, but there are still some intriguing leaks.
Two of the most solid rumors out there involve Buddy Hield, who appears to be on his way out of Sacramento, and Victor Oladipo, who despite recently saying all the right things, could be looking to leave the Pacers.
Let’s take a look to see if either shooting guards makes sense as a potential trade target for the Spurs.
Hield might be too expensive for what he brings in, but his shooting would help
For a team that is starved for perimeter shooting, Hield would be a fantastic addition. The 27-year-old marksman has made 41 percent of his three-pointers during his career so far on almost seven attempts per game. He can hit spot-up looks and shots off screens or pull-ups, which makes him not only deadly but versatile. In the hypothetical that the Spurs trade for him, he would essentially fill Bryn Forbes’ role but with better shooting and more size, providing a significant upgrade.
The question the front office would have to answer before making a move for Hield is whether a shooter, no matter how good, is worth $20 million a year. The Kings signed him to an extension that will kick in next season that pays him close to star money for the next four years, and he simply hasn’t shown he can provide the type of production to justify it. Hield ended up losing his starting spot in Sacramento in part because his defense was too disastrous, and because he never became a dynamic enough shot creator in the half court. As a super sub he has value, but it’s not clear if he would be fine with that role, considering he became disgruntled after being demoted to coming off the bench.
Does a trade make sense?
It depends on what the Kings would want back. If they just want him off the books long term and are willing to take, say, a package centered around expiring contracts and some second rounders, sure. The contract is a big issue, but the Spurs don’t have a lot of big commitments on their cap sheet, and Hield could slot nicely next to the guard platoon the Spurs already have. Long term, a perimeter rotation of Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Hield, Lonnie Walker IV and Keldon Johnson should have enough shooting, shot creation, defense and athleticism to be solid and versatile.
However, if the Kings want more, it would be hard to make a case for a trade. Again, so far Hield has proven that he’s only an elite shooter and not much more. Trading someone like Murray for him would not make sense, since Hield is already 27 years old, which means he’ll exit his prime while the rest of the young guys enter theirs, and he’s overpaid for what he produces.
An interesting scenario could be trading DeMar DeRozan, if he opts in, for Hield and an extra piece if the Kings want to remain in win-now mode. Could San Antonio pry away Marvin Bagley III from Sacramento by helping a new front office that probably wants to distance itself from both the Hield extension and the drafting of Bagley over Luka Doncic in such a move? It seems very unlikely, but if the opportunity is there, the Spurs should pounce on it.
Oladipo would be a risky target with a potentially high reward
Oladipo wants people to know that he’s a Pacer and that he doesn’t know where these rumors about him leaving are coming from. Unlike Hield, if he is disgruntled he doesn’t want it to be public, which makes sense considering his ties to Indiana. But it would not be surprising if he wanted out, since the Pacers flamed out in the playoffs, have just fired their head coach, and have seen the development of Myles Turner stall.
Since Oladipo is in the last year of his contract, he could easily force Indiana’s hand if he actually wants a change of scenery. The issue is that any team that trades for him could be trading for a rental, which makes negotiations tricky. The Pacers will surely want value back for a player that made two All-Star teams with them, but it could be hard to get it unless he assures the franchise interested in trading for him that he will re-sign. Making matters even more complex, Oladipo has played just 55 games over the past two seasons after suffering the same injury that essentially ended Tony Parker’s career as a starter. All of those factors make it extremely hard to judge what a good deal for Oladipo would look like.
Does a trade make sense?
Assuming the Spurs are interested, a potential DeRozan-Oladipo swap could be workable if DeRozan opts in, but it’s hard to image the Pacers being interested in it, considering they would almost surely lose DeRozan in free agency. Expiring contracts will not be enough to pry Oladipo away, which means that the Spurs would have to include one of their young players. That would be extremely risky but could pay off greatly, as long as Oladipo not only regains his form but then re-signs, which is not a given. After being traded twice, he could decide where he wants to play next for the first time in his career, so free agency could be enticing to him even in these uncertain times.
The player Oladipo was is worth the risk. It’s unlikely any of the young players on the roster will reach his heights as a featured offensive player who can also excel on defense. At age 28 he’s still relatively young but has enough experience to be a leader, which the Spurs will need once their veterans leave. Yet it’s hard to justify such a move right now, with what we know. If Oladipo, who has relied on athleticism throughout his career, is no longer a star player, then a trade for him would be a lateral move, at best. With San Antonio still being in an asset gathering stage, patience will be key, and the only transactions that should be made should have less question marks than a trade for Oladipo would have. Unless the Spurs are convinced they are getting a legitimate cornerstone, they should probably stay away.
Both Oladipo and Hield could help the Spurs to different degrees and could potentially be had. The issue is what it would cost to secure them. San Antonio doesn’t have to make big moves right now, so pursuing either too hard should not be on the table.
Hopefully the franchise is still doing its due diligence, though. There will be more players that will become available, and at some point the Spurs will have to take some chances in order to build a winning roster.