You can hear it now: Those NBA trade machine sites are firing up, and hypothetical trades are being slung around like drinks at a sports bar. And with that, we have officially entered the trade candidate audition phase. We’re 36 days away from the NBA trade deadline — a day when contenders try to utilize whatever remaining assets they have in order to assist tanking teams unload the veterans that help them win too many games.
For the San Antonio Spurs, they have a number of players that GMs of other teams are probably keeping an eye on. Josh Richardson, Doug McDermott, and Jakob Poeltl were all thrown into discussions about whom the Spurs might try to trade to accumulate more future assets. As the season has progressed, they’ve all played well enough that you could envision a team like the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, or the Dallas Mavericks trying to pry them away to help their title hopes.
The Spurs aren’t the only ones with veterans that could possibly be on the move, which only makes the performance of these aforementioned Spurs more important. Every McBucket Doug scores, every long-distance call Josh makes, and every shot that gets swatted by Blockob strengthens the Spurs bargaining chip and increases their value.
How well these players play make them potential trade candidates, but on top of that, how well the backups and youngers players play makes them more expendable. The better Zach Collins plays, the easier it gets for the Spurs to move on from Poeltl, especially if they’re able to get a younger big they can get to fill in as the backup center. The same goes for Malaki Branham and Romeo Langford. If they’re able to provide consistent production, moving on from Josh will start to seem like an inevitability.
Life moves fast in the NBA, so these vets could be suiting up for the Spurs down to the very last minute. Until then, every second they get on the court is a chance to prove why contenders should let go of a draft pick or two to get them on their roster.
- Tre Jones is here to stay. Now I don’t mean “here” as in San Antonio, but as a starting caliber NBA point guard. What he does doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet because he isn’t Steph Curry, or even a Jalen Brunson. Instead, he’s a settling presence with defensive chops. The kind of point guard that pairs perfectly with prolific wings and bigs. I’ll just leave it here because I have more to say about him coming soon.
- Keldon Johnson needs to find his stroke again. After a rough start last year shooting the three, he found something with his form that led to him ending the season as a 39.8% shooter. This year? It’s been the complete opposite. Through his first 14 games, he was shooting 42.3% on 8.8 three-point attempts per game. In the 19 games since (not including tonight), he shot 28% on 6.2 attempts per game. We’ve seen how great he can look when he’s knocking them down. We just need to hope he can the touch in the near future.
- Jalen Brunson should still be a Mav. It’s been discussed ad nauseam, but as Michelle Beadle mentioned in the broadcast, it’ll be a while into his Knicks tenure before we stop talking about Dallas letting him walk. I understand that there were things at play that might’ve made it impossible for them to keep Brunson, but he played too well last season for him to just walk. What’s done is done, however, and he’s showing why he was a top priority for the Knicks front office in the offseason, averaging 20.3 points and 6.5 assists per game so far – not counting the career-high 38 points he dropped in this one.
- The Spurs sideline out-of-bounds plays aren’t as crisp as they once were. There was once a time when the Spurs ran some of the best plays coming out of a timeout and you could almost count on them scoring. Nowadays, every time I see the team need to inbound the ball from the sideline, I’m holding my breath, just hoping they’re able to get it in. And last night, their troubles with this popped its head out at the worst possible time when Jeremy Sochan was called for a five-second violation. It wasn’t solely his fault, as he didn’t really have anywhere to throw the ball. This is something that’s hopefully fixed as this rebuild keeps chugging along.