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