After making the obvious decision to select Victor Wembanyama with the top pick in the 2023 NBA draft, the Spurs made a somewhat surprising move. Instead of adding another rookie with the 33rd overall pick, they traded it to the Timberwolves for two future second-rounders, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Leading up the the draft there was a lot of speculation about the Spurs potentially using their two second-round picks to attempt to move to the first round, but as the night went on, it became clear that there were not going to be any big trades involving San Antonio. Other teams acquired some selections in the 20s, but the Silver and Black stood pat. It seemed like they were just happy to stay at 33 until it was reported that the Timberwolves had acquired the pick for two future second-rounders to get Leonard Miller.
At first glance it might seem confusing for the Spurs, in the middle of a youth movement, to turn down the possibility of adding more talent immediately, but the decision makes sense. Clearly, there was no one that the front office felt was worth turning down two extra draft assets for at that point. The Timberwolves ended up selecting Miller, an intriguing forward that could have made for an interesting long-term piece, but San Antonio has plenty of young players in need of development already. The minutes with the big team were not going to be there next season for pretty much any rookie at any position except for Wembanyama and it would have likely been hard to convince someone selected so early in the second round to sign a two-way contract in order to control their timeline for entering free agency.
The Spurs already have an excess of second-round picks and a lot of teams don’t seem to value them highly these days, so the return can seem underwhelming, but the front office seems to be on asset acquisition mode, which is not a bad thing. General Manager Brian Wright has made it clear that the franchise wants to know what it has with this current group and Victor Wembanyama. If some of the young players currently around disappoint, having extra future picks to replenish the bench could be valuable. If the team outperforms expectations, those extra assets can be utilized to get upgrades. It’s not the most exciting use of a decent pick on what experts agree was a strong draft but it lines up with the message of patience and continuity that the decision-makers seem to be preaching.
Cap flexibility and a strong war chest overflowing with picks are arguably more important right now for San Antonio than a fringe NBA prospect on a standard contract and in that sense, the franchise made a wise long-term move.