The Annual “Is It Time For A Trade?” Column

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The All-Star break is officially upon us. The celebrity game is tonight, followed by the Rookie/Sophomore Challenge. That also means the trade deadline is less than a week away. All-Star Weekend is usually when the trade rumors start buzzing around like flies on a summer’s evening.

While the Spurs are typically less active at the trade deadline than most teams, they are not immune to the rumors. Already this year, we’ve heard an Evan Turner report and most recently a fairly hilarious Beno Udrih rumor. Those and many more will be out there. Some will be worth discussing, most won’t. The larger question is should they make a trade? We ask ourselves this every year because each year it seems like there’s room for improvement within the roster (turns out every roster has room for improvement). Also, it’s fun to think about the unknown. This year’s Spurs have one glaring hole and one smaller hole. The big one is the lack of a back up small forward. Kawhi Leonard went down and the Spurs got small real fast. Danny Green held his own until he also got hurt and then all of a sudden Marco Belinelli is playing serious minutes at small forward.

Fortunately, Leonard’s injury is a freak one, so it’s not a knee or foot issue that will linger. Still, that doesn’t mean another freak injury can happen (and the way this season is going don’t bet against it) and so the Spurs need to be prepared. They probably know this, because they’re the Spurs and I’m a blogger who is at least three moves behind them in this particular game of chess. The second problem and this is a smaller issue, is the need for one more rim protector. When Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter are both out of the game, the paint is wide open. With Duncan and Splitter both healthy, that’s not a problem for most of the game, but having another guy to protect the rim just in case wouldn’t hurt.

So the next question is should the Spurs make a trade, who’s available for them to trade? That list is probably includes all but five or six guys, but once you factor in guys with actual trade value it dwindles. However, that list is probably a little longer now than it was six weeks ago. That’s because of the emergence of Cory Joseph. Once every other decent wing defender for the Spurs went down, Joseph stepped in admirably, playing shooting guard, defending the other team’s best guard and acting as a playmaker from time to time as well. Before, he looked a little overwhelmed playing against other teams’ starters, but now he looks like someone who belongs as a rotation player on a team. Other tradeable pieces include Matt Bonner (expiring contract), Nando De Colo (small expiring contract) and Jeff Ayres (cheap contract, helps any team looking for an extra rebounder).

The two big question marks are Danny Green and Boris Diaw. Both are very important to what the Spurs do, but both are also on cheap short deals and could help a team looking to clear space or add talent for any sort of playoff run. Diaw in particular has been wildly important and you could has been the second most consistent Spurs this season behind Duncan. Still, he can get beat up inside and really does nothing to protect the rim. Despite those small flaws, he still seems to fall under that “more important to the Spurs than another team” designation. Ditto for Green. His offense is limited and his shooting’s been incredibly streaky this season, but he can still hit a 3-pointer from anywhere beyond the arc and is the Spurs second best perimeter defender. Were the Spurs to trade him, they would have to be sure they’re getting another plus wing defender back. Green’s biggest value comes in a potential series against Golden State or Oklahoma City, where he can guard Stephen Curry or Russell Westbrook one-on-one, allowing Leonard to guard Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant. There are very few things more important than that for the Spurs.

I think the Spurs should make a move. I think the Spurs think the Spurs should make a move. But it won’t be a big move because while the injuries bring chemistry issues on the court, teams that rely on precise execution don’t shake their roster up mid-season. No, we’re talking about a small move. A back up small forward, maybe another big man. I won’t be surprised if they don’t and they proved last year that what they have is certainly championship caliber.

Oh, and because you love them almost as much as I do, here are some fake trades:

1. Matt Bonner, Nando De Colo, a first round pick for Evan Turner: Solves the back up small forward issue and there’s no long term commitment. Sixers keep their cap space and pick up an extra pick.

2. Matt Bonner, Cory Joseph and a future first round pick for Wilson Chandler: This one’s a salary dump for Denver. They’re a mediocre team at best and have very little cap space moving forward. Chandler’s departure would also free up playing time for Quincy Miller, who looks like he could be special.

3. Matt Bonner and Cory Joseph for Jason Thompson: Remember that rim protector business I was talking about? Problem solved. The Kings need a lot and a back up point guard to Isaiah Thomas is one of them. Rookie Ray McCallum may or may not be that guy moving forward and Jimmer Fredette is definitely not that guy moving forward. The Kings have this log jam at power forward. In addition to Thompson, they have Carl Landry, Derrick Williams and Quincy Acy all looking for minutes. They also will have a salary cap issue once they re-sign Thomas this summer. This deal would clear $4 million off their books next summer (helping them avoid the luxury tax), not to mention the long term savings. Also, Matt Tynan loves Thompson, so that’s another reason to do the trade.

Alright, like these ideas? Hate’em? Have at it in the comment section.

  • Swardy

    Please make this Jason Thompson trade happen

  • Graham

    1) I have doubts about Turner’s willingness to accept the role we would place him in. Don’t think that trade would be enough, Brett Brown would probably angle for Mills or Joseph. Plus Philly doesn’t need expirings. They have more cap then they know what to do with.

    2) Seems reasonable, but I’d be leery about 3 years of Wilson Chandler at that rate. Of the 3 I like this the best, easily.

    3) Sounds good on paper, but I’m not so sure it’s needed. Priority 1 2 and 3 should be addressing the backup Small Forward Spot. Rim protection can be handled by staggering Tiago and Tim’s minutes come playoff time. Several matchups could trend small anyway and help out there, actually.

  • Ray Briggs II

    1) I don’t think Phili does that deal because I bet they think they can get more for Turner. I also think he is primo example of an average player having a great season on a bad team.

    2) I like this deal the best. It’s a commitment over the next 3 years but the last year is a Team Option and it’s a very tradeable contract down the line if it doesn’t work out. Chandler can also hit the 3 which is important in the Spurs offense.

    3) Pass. I don’t want 4 years of commitment to Jason Thompson. At least as long as we don’t have a backup SF, there is no reason to look at any other deal.

  • Jamarcus Ellis

    Why don’t we pick up Jason Collins as another big body in the paint? Sure he’ll attract the media attention, but aren’t we the best franchise for keeping the media a non-issue? Bad stats or not he’s a 7-footer.

  • ThatBigGuy

    1. I’d be very worried about Turner’s attitude about coming off the bench with a big PT cut. He’d be taking a huge numbers hit, which would directly correlate to a huge money hit on his next contract. I just don’t see him buying into the Spurs system.

    2. I like this trade. Chandler is only 26 yrs old, and his final year has only $2 million guaranteed. I think he’d thrive as the 4 in a Patty/Manu/Marco combo off the bench. His neck-baby tattoo really creeps me out though.

    3. I like Thompson’s athleticism, and I think Pop and Tim could mold him into a decent rangy PnR/weakside defender. I don’t like the amount of years left on his contract, even if the final year is only partially (38%) guaranteed.

    Number 1 cuts it really close on resigning Patty. Number 2 and 3 gives a bit more room, and may even allow Diaw to resign at a hometown discounted rate.

    Number 2 is my favorite because it has the highest upside, lowest risk, and least amount of salary implications.

  • Greg

    1) Isn’t that what the Spurs are best at though, taking average players and making them great players within their system?

    I agree with you comments on 2 and 3.

  • skeptic210

    2. Can we add Faried to the mix??

    3. Maybe add Derrick Williams?

  • arnold

    Thompson is tall but not necessarily a rim protector. The chandler trade I like but he is their 2nd most consistent guy. That trade would signal the nugs completely scrapping this season. Would they do that. I think the Turner trade is by far the most obvious and likely. That first round pick though could hurt. This draft doesn’t have as many stars as people thought but we could definitely get a very serviceable player with upside at the spot we could end up with.

    The denver trade is the best one.

  • Spursfan14

    Did you start watching the Spurs this season? How are Green (Finals 3pt record holder and responsible for shutting down Curry) and Boris Diaw (great D on Lebron and incredible in the GS game 1) less important (or question marks like you say) than Tiago Splitter (worst player of the Finals and hacked successfully the year prior among other things).

    Boris Diaw has been more important than Tiago the last two runs (WCF and 28s from a title), what the hell are you looking at? And Green is a question mark? How is he more of a question mark than Belinelli and Mills who only play one end?

  • colt

    i’d be ok giving up bonner’s expiring contract along with joespeh/ ayers for an upgraded rim protector. Definitely agree we have a glaring hole at back up sf, however we went through the entire playoffs without one ( lets be real Tmac only played garbage time) last year with a healthy kawhi and were completely fine. I think priorities have to be on controlling the paint in order to have another crack at a championship come june.

  • Ryan McShane

    I would rather see Jeff Ayres or Aron Baynes go before Matt Bonner – he’s the plus/minus king. He’s hugely important in short spurts for the Spurs. I am aware that Bonner gets paid at least twice as much as the other two… perhaps the Spurs could send international rights? A Cory Joseph/expiring Nando de Colo/future first round pick/international rights to one or more players deal would be pretty for a team like Philadelphia or Denver trying to drop a cap hold/stuffer like Turner or Chandler. And btw, I think either of these players, especially Chandler, would help the Spurs.

  • fkj74

    We need Bonner, Diaw, and Green. They all play important roles for us! Any new guy would have to learn the system on the fly. I say we stand pat uness we get a playoff tested vet SF Go Spurs!

  • Mike Smith

    Why do you hate The Red Mamba?

  • Josh

    I like Evan Truner and think he could help the spurs and i would also want to explore Thadeous Young from philly as he could help the spurs get younger and more athletic at the PF position. I would be willing to part ways with any combination of joseph, ayers, bonner, baynes and or a draft pick. Spurs gotta make something happen now as this year might be our last chance at a title with this group.

  • Titletown99030507

    Agree on #3 – actually when the need arises come finals in say a game six when everything is on the line Pop will actually have at least one of those two bigs on the floor this time around (Tiago or Timmy) to get one rebound to win a trophy. We really do need someone to spell KL.

  • Titletown99030507

    So is Baynes. And your point is?

  • Titletown99030507

    Your wrong there. Tiago is more important than you think. The experts keep talking about how the Spurs are missing his defense. They are the experts. Hence the scores at the end of their games as of late. You can’t expect to win having all star games scores on both sides that’s a recipe for losing. Defense always wins championships. Too bad Tiago wasn’t on the floor on that one rebound we needed in game six in the finals. He is better than last year. Freak injuries don’t help but he is better this season. Look what he did to the Cilppers in that game when he got injured he was on his way to a stellar game and possibly breakout year. But as long he gets back to that point again I don’t have a problem with his contributions.

  • Jamarcus Ellis

    your going to be condescending towards me and not the guy wanting to get into the faried mix? baynes hasn’t exactly done anything meaningful this years beyond fouling howard when we need to send howard to the line. so excuse me for coming up with cap friendly ideas to enhance our front line.

  • Gamboaesthetic

    Option 1 is ok.
    Option 2 is going to help big time.
    Option 3 is also a good option but 2 is the best.

  • lvmainman

    Metta World Peace for Cory Joseph and a 2nd round pick.

    MWP can fill the huge hole of a backup 3 that can play small 4 that Pop wants. He’s rested by not playing this year. He’s cheap at $1.6 mil/yr and signed thru next yr when Duncan/Ginobili retire.

    Best option on the table for the Spurs.