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A final look at the Spurs’ busy trade deadline

Now that a couple of days have passed, it’s time to reevaluate what happened before the trade deadline.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs traded Derrick White for Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, a first round pick and the rights to swap picks in 2026. Do you like the move?

Marilyn Dubinski: I am the type of fan who gets emotionally attached to players drafted by the Spurs, and who stick and around and give their all to the city and organization. So in that sense, when it was first announced, emotionally I did not like it all. It also initially didn’t do anything for me on paper since it feels like a lateral move at best, maybe even a downgrade (outside of Josh Richardson having a better three-point shooting season than White). But once I put emotions and raw stats behind me, I was able to see the bigger picture, which Jesus eloquently spelled out. Their current ceiling isn’t very high, the stockpile of first round picks they’re getting could be huge, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson seem primed for extensions, and Josh Primo could be something special. I still don’t like that Derrick is gone, but after some time to think, I have at least accepted it.

Mark Barrington: It’s really tough parting with Derrick White, who is really one of my favorite players in the entire league, but it makes sense in that I don’t think that having Derrick and Dejounte in the same backcourt was perfectly complementary, since there was a lot of overlap in their skillsets. I think that with the emergence of Devin Vassell and with Primo showing potential, it seems like the Spurs could part with Derrick in favor of some long term moves. Face it, the Spurs aren’t going to be good this year, and the team next year will be mostly be devoted to developing and evaluating young players. Derrick is already who he is, and he’s going to be a terrific asset for the Celtics in their playoff run this year, I just hope they don’t do TOO well, because I would like their pick to be as close to the 13th pick as possible.

Bruno Passos: I might like what the move signals more than the deal itself, but I like the self-awareness and initiative it reflects from the front office’s side. It was becoming clear that the core of the team, as constituted, had a pretty low ceiling and they were going to need to pursue some new paths to raise that ceiling. They found a good partner in a Boston team with loftier goals and coach familiar with White and that first-round pick could either represent another stab at a quality player or another kind of trade chip. And who knows whether that detail around the 2026 pick swap ends up being a bigger deal as the Celtics keep trying to make the Brown-Tatum era work.

Additionally, not that cap space matters as much for a market (and team situation) like San Antonio’s, but Richardson’s $11 million going off the books this offseason gives the team that much more flexibility as it retools. Langford I haven’t seen play, and there’s probably a good reason for that, but I know he was once a highly regarded recruit. Maybe he will benefit from a change of scenery.

Jesus Gomez: It’s a good trade, for several reasons. First, the Spurs not only got a first rounder and the rights to swap picks down the line, but they also didn’t get any toxic assets back. Richardson can play and is on a good contract that ends soon. Langford is young and cheap. If instead they would have gotten someone they had no use for who happened to be on a long deal, the equation would be different. A rotation wing, a decent prospect and a pick for White is undoubtedly a good haul. That the move also gives the team a direction is the cherry on top.

At the same time, parting with White is bittersweet. Even when his offensive game was not working, his defense was always there and his selflessness was inspiring. You want players like that on your team. But sometimes front offices have to make tough decisions, and this one seems like the correct one.

The Spurs traded Thaddeus Young, Drew Eubanks and Detroit’s second round pick for Goran Dragic and a first round pick. Do you like the move?

Dubinski: I’m fine with this move, even though Dragic will likely be waived. (It would have been cool to see him finally suit up for the Spurs after they drafted him but immediately traded his rights. He and Luis Scola always felt like ones who got away.) Even without him, it was a good for look the front office to finally be able to move a serviceable veteran for something in return after they couldn’t get it done with Pau Gasol, DeMarre Carrol, and LaMarcus Aldridge and ended up having to buy them out. And getting another first round pick out of all that is a steal.

Barrington: Unlike the Derrick White trade, which was unexpected and a harsh balance of pain and improvement, this one is pretty much an unreserved positive all around. Thaddeus really was professional about his lack of court time for the Spurs, but he can still play and should be on the court, and the fact that the Spurs were able to give him what he wanted and also get a first round pick out of the deal is about the best that they could have hoped for. Goran Dragic was a part of the deal just for salary matching purposes, and I doubt Dragic will ever don a Spurs uniform, but there is a weird symmetry about him getting drafted by the Spurs in 2008, while never wearing the Silver and Black, and then being traded back in 2022 near the end of his career, and still not playing in San Antonio. I would guess he will still play this year, but for a different team, probably in Dallas after the Spurs release him.

Passos: There was some uncertainty as to what Young’s market would be, so essentially turning the 31st or 32nd pick from Detroit into, probably, something in the low 20s is better than nothing, as long as the Raptors don’t miss the playoffs. It would be fun if Dragic stayed around, even with the Spurs’ incurable glut at the guard spot, but clearly this move was about adding to the pile of assets moving forward, and Brian Wright should be lauded for doing that.

Gomez: I think it was a fine move, mostly because Young’s value seemed to had tanked so hard after not playing much and looking bad when he did that a buyout seemed like a very real possibility. The return is not that great, since in practice the Spurs basically moved up a few spots in the draft by sending out a Pistons’ second rounder that would have been a very high one, but since Young wasn’t in their plans and Eubanks had fallen out of the rotation with the return of Zach Collins, it was a good trade.

Which of the other trades that happened before the deadline surprised you the most?

Dubinski: Not only did I not think the 76ers would be able to move Ben Simmons this season, I definitely didn’t think they would get player of James Harden’s caliber in return. It was looking more like they would have to wait until at least this offseason and accept more of a package deal, with a player more along the lines of Murray or White (for lack of a better example) as the headliner. But the perfect storm arose where Harden wasn’t happy with the disfunction Kyrie Irving was causing in Brooklyn, and both teams needed to move on. The Harden-Morey connection probably helped.

Barrington: I think the Harden move, because of the high price the Nets paid for a player who can’t shoot, and refuses to play for his franchise. I mean, both teams moved players who didn’t want to be where they were, but the Nets giving away two first round picks to do that seems like a big sacrifice to me. But if Simmons comes back looking like an All Star, I’ll be happy to be wrong. With all of the shooters on the Nets roster, maybe Ben’s reluctance to take big shots won’t hurt them too much, but we’ll find out soon.

Passos: The Mavs’ moving off Porzingis made sense but how they did it was surprising in bringing in Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans. It still doesn’t feel like Dallas has successfully built around Luka Doncic and, while this probably removed a personality that wasn’t meshing with his, the roster feels less complete than before. I was also shocked by the Haliburton-Sabonis the day before, only because it felt like the Kings undoing one of their few great front office decisions in recent history only to chase a play-in berth.

Gomez: What surprised me the most are trades that didn’t happen, honestly. Eric Gordon is still a Rocket. Jerami Grant is still a Piston. Russell Westbrook is still a Laker. I was expecting all three to be moved.

If I have to pick an actual deal, McCollum to the Pelicans is probably the one. It makes perfect sense for New Orleans to want to add talent, even if they have to overpay slightly for it, but I did not see that one coming, considering the team is essentially competing for a play-in spot. Sabonis to the Kings is easier to rationalize, because the big man is 25 years old while McCollum is 30. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the move for the Pelicans, but I just didn’t expect it at all.