Now that Victor Wembanyama is finally a Spur, it’s time to build the team around him. All indications out of San Antonio is that they will be patient building the foundation around their new star. They want to build a team that fits the big man and gives him the best chance to succeed.
That includes filling the gaps that exist on the roster right now. A glaring hole exists at the point guard position. Tre Jones is a restricted free agent who could demand a large deal, Blake Wesley is largely unproven, and Devonte’ Graham had an up and down end to the season. Some steady hands to help run the offense and add depth to an important position could help Wembanyama succeed.
Unfortunately for San Antonio, there aren’t many options on the free agent market. There is Fred VanVleet, who will likely demand a $30 million annual deal, or perhaps Jordan Clarkson, whose talents may be worth more to a team ready to compete for a championship next season.
The trade market, on the other hand, bears a bit more fruit. A few teams have guards that they are rumored to be dangling on the trade market for future assets. The Spurs have roughly 30 draft picks until 2029 (depending on protected picks conveying) and $30 million in cap space to absorb salary. They are in the perfect position to acquire players without sending someone on their roster in return.
Here are three trades that they should consider to acquire a point guard for next season.
Monte Morris to San Antonio for picks
After trading Bradley Beal and then subsequently Chris Paul for draft assets and young players, the Wizards are in full rebuild mode. They also have a glut of guards that includes Tyus Jones, Jordan Poole, Johnny Davis, Delon Wright, Landry Shamet and Monte Morris. Reports have claimed that Washington could be looking to shed one of their veteran guards for more assets to supply their rebuild.
Signs point to Morris being the odd man out, and gettable via trade. He is 28-years-old and is coming off of a season in which he averaged 10.3 points, 5.3 assists on 48% shooting from the field and 38% from the three point line. Morris was the starting point guard for the majority of Washington’s middling season. Despite the team’s struggles, Morris directed the ship with poise, posting a 5:1 assist to turnover ratio and adequately defending at the point of attack.
Here, the Wizards dump him for a heavily protected Charlotte first round pick, as well as two second rounders. As we’ve seen this offseason, second rounders hold more value than they have in the past. With the second luxury tax apron in the collective bargaining agreement, teams can use second rounders to acquire cheap young role players later in the draft.
With Morris and Jones, the Spurs would have two strong facilitators and perimeter defenders to run their offense. Jones grades out slightly better statistically, but doesn’t provide the three-point shooting that Morris does. The two would create strong guard depth next to Wembanyama.
Morris won’t disrupt ball handlers like Jones, but he holds them to .907 points per possession, good enough for the 77th percentile in the NBA. He can play on and off the ball from the guard spot, hitting 36% of his catch and shoot threes. With years of experience playing next to Nikola Jokic in Denver, he can bring valuable veteran experience to a club getting ready to play around a ball dominant big man who can play inside and out.
A Killian Hayes gamble
Why not take a cheap flier on a lefty combo-guard who is on the outside looking in of playing time? Detroit has Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey to handle the ball, and just added Ausar Thompson and Marcus Sasser who are complimentary guards. Killian Hayes has struggled to find his footing with the Pistons, and could use a change of scenery to develop into a player who is worthy of a top-10 pick.
His value should be relatively low given the new influx of young talent, and his inefficient third season. Last year Hayes averaged 10 points, 6 assists and 2 turnovers a game on 37% shooting from the field and 28% from three. He got a chance to start a majority of the Piston’s games last season with Cunningham dealing with injuries. While his counting stats improved, he struggled to make an impact on winning.
Here the Spurs buy low on the combo guard in hopes they can develop him along with their young core. The Lakers ‘24 and Heat ‘28 second round picks aren’t the most valuable, but provide Detroit with assets they can flip down the line when they get closer to contention.
In San Antonio, Hayes would compete for minutes with Wesley and Graham as the team’s backup combo guard. Rather than being used as a frequent pick and roll ball handler, he could be utilized as a cutter and creator off of handoffs, where he was more efficient in 2022. He’d need to spend plenty of time in the gym with Jimmy Baron to work on his jump shot to add floor spacing to an already shaky guard group of shooters. His international background also fits into the team that they are currently building.
Hayes still has a high upside with strong ball skills, good athleticism and a nice size for a guard at 6-foot-5. This is a chance for the Spurs to add a reclamation project for cheap. If their stellar player development track record continues, they could have a key rotation piece on their hands.
Trying to create some Magic
Because the trade machine is not up to date, this picture leaves out two more assets in the trade: the two Timberwolves second round picks acquired for the 33rd pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Cole Anthony is likely the player with the highest trade value out of the three listed. He’s just 23-years-old and becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2024. That means he would get one year to prove himself in San Antonio, and then the Spurs could extend him if he proves to be a part of their future. If he isn’t a key piece of the roster moving forward, they could flip the young guard in a sign and trade next offseason.
Because of this value, the Spurs would have to give the most away in a trade. The 2025 Chicago pick has a real opportunity to convey, and the Timberwolves second rounders will likely be of higher value than other seconds they can give up. The Magic have had luck with the Bulls first round picks, acquiring Franz Wagner and Jett Howard with two of their selections. With Markelle Fultz, Anthony Black and Jalen Suggs on the roster, stacking up on some draft picks could be enough to part ways with Anthony.
The Spurs would get an impactful defender who averaged 13 points and 4 assists on 45% shooting from the field and 36% from three. Last season Anthony held opposing players to 39% shooting, and .93 points per possession. That puts him in the 80th percentile of all defenders in the NBA, per Synergy. Anthony would provide the Spurs with strong point of attack defense mixed with shot creation on the other end.
Anthony is at his best operating out of the pick and roll and is a drop coverage killer. He shot 43% on pull up three out of the PnR, and shot 49% on total attempts out of the action. A pairing with Wembanyama would make for an exciting young duo on both ends.
Jones and Anthony would be an exciting guard duo who provide different things. Jones could play the facilitator role, and create havoc forcing turnovers, while Anthony gives the Spurs a scoring guard who has become a tenacious defender in his own right. It would cost them a bit more than other guards on the market, but could have the highest upside on the court.