The trade deadline is almost here. The Spurs are not expected to make any huge deals as they continue their first rebuilding season, but there could be some new faces in San Antonio after Thursday at 2 p.m. CT.
Unlike other years, when the goal was simply to improve, this time San Antonio can take a lot of different approaches thinking more about the long term. The path they choose could help us understand how happy they are with their current progress and what the timeline for the rebuild really is. With that in mind, here’s all you need to know about the Spurs heading into the deadline.
Have the Spurs made any trades already?
Yes, the Spurs have completed two trades this season. First, they took on Noah Vonleh and cash from Boston for a conditional second rounder that will likely not convey. The move saved Boston some money and made San Antonio some money. It was purely about cap management as Vonleh was immediately waived.
The second deal is similar but did return a tangible basketball-related asset to the Spurs. Miami sent Dewayne Dedmon and a 2028 second-round pick to San Antonio to save money and get rid of a player that had grown disgruntled. By simply absorbing Dedmon into their cap space, the Spurs got another draft pick for their war chest and only sent out some cash.
What kind of trade can we expect the Spurs to make next?
The Spurs are probably not planning to make any big moves and will instead try to be opportunistic. Arguably the main thing to watch for as the deadline approaches is how the Spurs use their cap space to get more draft assets by doing what they did with the Dedmon trade or by being the third party on a bigger deal, It’s not the most exciting objective, but it makes sense for a team that is early in its rebuilding stage.
After taking on Dedmon, the Spurs still have about $20 million in cap space, so they can still absorb a few midsized contracts or a big one, like Evan Fournier’s, for example, in exchange for a pick or a young player. They can also combine that cap space with expiring contracts to take on some of the massive deals that other teams might be trying to move, like Gordon Hayward’s, for example. It wouldn’t be surprising to see them make at least one more trade in which they just rent out cap space.
Who is the most likely Spur to be traded?
At this stage of the rebuild no one is untouchable, but it’s safe to say that the rookies, Devin Vassell, and Keldon Johnson are probably safe unless a unique opportunity presents itself. Tre Jones might be in that group as well. Everyone else is probably on the table for the right price, but the veterans are the most likely to be moved.
Josh Richardson and Doug McDermott have reportedly been on the block all season and teams have reportedly inquired about Jakob Poeltl. The individual value of those players differs. McDermott is a defensive liability, so teams might be hesitant to trade anything valuable for him despite his talent on offense, but he does have one more year on a very reasonable contract. Richardson should be more appealing, as he’s more well-rounded and younger but is on an expiring contract. He’s probably a lot of playoff team’s plan B right now, as they target other players first. Both guys would probably be available for second rounders, but all it takes is one contender thinking they need one more piece for the Spurs can get either multiple seconds or a low first rounder for one of them.
Then there’s Poeltl. The Spurs are reportedly asking for two first rounders to part ways with him and are considering bringing him back in free agency if he’s not traded. It’s highly unlikely anyone pays that price without knowing for sure that the big man, who will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, will re-sign with them on a good value contract, so if San Antonio is really not budging on the price, he’ll probably be around after the deadline. It’s possible, however, that the front office is just posturing to increase Poeltl’s trade value and would actually be receptive to taking one first and something else for Jak, which improves the chances of a deal happening. We’ll just have to wait and see.
Is there a chance something big and unexpected happens?
There’s always a chance. The Spurs do have some good players on great contracts along with cap space and extra picks. If there’s someone out there they think can really help get them back on top, they have the assets to make something happen. The problem is that it’s tough to find anyone attainable who is good enough to move the needle and young enough to fit the timeline.
The perpetually available John Collins has been tenuously linked to the Spurs before but the Hawks are probably looking for win-now pieces and already have a solid center in Clint Capela, so Poeltl probably doesn’t interest them. A Keldon Johnson for OG Anunoby swap could make some sense if San Antonio wants more defense, but Anunoby is already 26 and has only one year left in his contract after this season before he can opt out while Johnson recently signed an extension. Would the Brett Brown connection be enough for the Spurs to take a massive chance on Ben Simmons? It seems unlikely. Finding anyone worth taking a big swing on is tough at this time.
A flashy trade for an established name is possible but it’s hard to justify pulling the trigger. Of course, the front office might disagree and the Spurs could end up having a more eventful trade deadline than anyone could anticipate, but it’s better to not expect any fireworks this time.