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NBA Trade rumors heat up, but the Spurs should stay patient

A lot of players appear to be on the block, but it doesn’t seem like there are any realistic targets out there for the Spurs.

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NBA: Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Hawks are once again shopping John Collins. Should the Spurs be interested?

Marilyn Dubinski: I think if the Spurs were truly interested in Collins, they would have made a move with the many previous chances they’ve had. He was tied to them while was still on his rookie contract and they were in much more need of a power forward, and they didn’t acquire him. They didn’t chase him as a restricted free agent (at least not desperately), and if they really wanted a playable part in return for Dejounte Murray, they could have demanded Collins then, but they didn’t. At this point, I imagine the Spurs would rather keep developing Jeremy Sochan at power forward and hedge their bets on lucking into Victor Wembanyama or another forward in what will be a deep draft.

Mark Barrington: I don’t think so. He’s only 25, so he might be able to fit in the Spurs timeline, but he’s not a team leader, and they’re not interested in adding a player making more than $25 million/year through the 2025-2026 season who is just a complementary player.

Bruno Passos: How much can change in a year. I was (and remain) a fan of what Collins can bring for any team looking for an upgrade, even if they’re not knocking on the door. That was at least the impression most had of the Spurs 12 months ago, but in taking the long view it’s pretty clear they shouldn’t be in the John Collins Business. Keep your picks, remain bad, and do what the Spurs of yore would: wait to sign him when he’s 34 and good for a solid 14 minutes a night off the bench.

Jesus Gomez: I’d say yes if not for the fact that the Spurs are sitting a variety of guys on a nightly basis, which suggests that despite the strong start they have no desire to compete right now. It’s totally understandable and I’d say smart for that to be the plan, but it makes any big win-now moves hard to justify. It’s also tricky to see a trade that makes sense since the Hawks have a solid starting center which means they probably wouldn’t be interested in Jakob Poeltl. It’s a little strange that Atlanta seems to perpetually be trying to move a good player, but the Spurs should probably sit this one out.

J.R. Wilco: Why would the team sign for more talent when they’re barely playing the talent they have. No one on the team would admit it, but for the first time in my life there’s zero doubt in my mind that PATFO is capable of making the decision to tank — and that they have made that decision.

The Spurs need a backup point guard and Immanuel Quickley could be available. Would it be a good fit?

Dubinski: I don’t know much about Quickley, but at this point anyone who is more than a fringe NBA player will be an upgrade from what they have (no offense to Jordan Hall). The problem isn’t so much the lack of a point guard behind Jones as much as it is when he misses a game, the Spurs have nothing. The idea of point Sochan is fun, but it’s too much to put on the rookie forward’s shoulders and not sustainable should Jones miss extended time. So, yeah, if a backup point guard becomes available, go for it.

Barrington: I think Quickley would be a player who would be able to step in immediately and help the Spurs win games, which is a good reason why the Spurs don’t want to acquire him in a mid-season trade. The goal this year is to develop players and to have a good chance at drafting a future franchise centerpiece. Acquiring an experienced player that’s going to take away minutes from the young guys and help the team win games doesn’t advance either one of those goals.

Passos: With Blake Wesley still weeks away from what will probably be a gradual, patient return to play, I wouldn’t mind some kind of placeholder that provided a bit of structure and stability and made the losses a bit easier to watch. However, I don’t think that should come at the cost of the kind of draft collateral I assume the Knicks would want back for Quickley. I don’t necessarily think adding him would undermine the Spurs’ lottery odds, but they can probably satisfy their immediate needs without dipping into the piggy bank of picks.

Gomez: Quickley is the right age and at his best has the type of skill set that would complement Tre Jones, as he can score and shoot from distance. Is he the starting point guard of the future, though? I won’t blame him for being buried on the bench by the notoriously stubborn Tom Thibodeau, but even when he was getting minutes he looked more like a potentially great backup than a likely long-term starter. With Jones around, Wesley returning at some point and a few good point guard prospects in the upcoming draft, it would probably be better to not use assets on someone that wouldn’t be on the core immediately. That said, if all it takes is a veteran and a second-rounder to get him, then sure.

Wilco: Unless he’s been identified as a perfect culture fit, there’s no need to do anything mid-season to try to win more games. (See previous statement about tanking.)

If you had to guess which Spur currently on the roster will be traded before the season ends, who’d you pick?

Dubinski: The trio of Josh Richardson, Doug McDermott and Jakob Poeltl are the most likely candidates, and I’m already on the record saying I don’t want the Spurs to trade Poeltl and don’t think they should until they see how the draft goes (and by then it would be a matter of re-signing him). Of the remaining two, I can see more teams being interested in Richardson’s two-way play and expiring contract, and at the same time he just hasn’t been that good so far this season, while McDermott brings much-needed shooting to the Spurs. My vote goes to Richardson.

Barrington: It hurts me to say this, but I think the Spur most likely to be traded will be Jakob Poeltl. Just because he’d be 30 in 2025, and he’s going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Two or three years from now is the earliest that the Spurs are expected to compete, but the Spurs could try to re-sign him if the price isn’t too high, if they think he can fit in that timeline. I fear performances like his 31-point explosion against the Grizzlies earlier this year might increase the price beyond what the Spurs are willing to pay, and they might be tempted to move him to get a draft pick or two instead of having him leave without compensation to the team.

Passos: McDermott, Richardson and even Bates-Diop should all have some interest from contenders and should be had for more reasonable returns. Poeltl may have the higher demand from some suitors, but that’ll presumably come with a higher price tag from the Spurs’ side, and there are only so many fake trades that involve a starting center who, for all his virtues, doesn’t spread the floor. There’s a chance all get moved (and I’d guess the Spurs will have phone calls for each) but I’ll throw out a different name and say KBD, if only because more teams might be in play for a 3-4 who’s having a strong season and could slot into basically any team.

Gomez: Richardson is probably the likeliest candidate because he can just come off the bench and help any contender immediately. But I also think Isaiah Roby might be moved eventually. It was a good idea to claim him off waivers, but it now seems Gregg Popovich likes KBD more, so there’s little reason for him to be around. He’s making very little money by NBA standards, is young and athletic and I’m sure someone will be interested if the price is low enough.

Wilco: Richardson is my pick. I agree that’s it’s between him and McBuckets and Jakob, but I give the nod to Josh because of the versatility of his skillset. He handles and shoots and tries on defense. That makes him interesting to a ton of different teams, which makes him most likely in my eyes.