On whether the Spurs factor in with early trade candidates

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One of the downsides to covering the San Antonio Spurs is they’ve been so good and consistent for so long, covering certain aspects of the NBA season become less fun than they are for other teams. They don’t panic trade and they’re generally not active at the deadline. They don’t go after big name free agents and, outside of the Kawhi Leonard-George Hill trade, they don’t do exciting draft day deals.

That’s the price Spurs fans pay for having an uber-successful team. I think collectively we can live with it and I’ll wait while fans of other teams reading this throw up the double bird if it sounds like I’m complaining about the team’s success. (waiting… waiting). Now, just because the team chooses to be inactive more times than not when names pop up on the rumor mill doesn’t mean we can’t think about whether they’d be a good fit for the Spurs. Having the league’s best record also doesn’t mean we can’t look for ways the team can improve.

There’s been a handful of names floated out as trade candidates early in the season.  Here are a couple of ideas and I promise I’m not going to fake trade Tony Parker:

Matt Bonner and Nando De Colo for Derrick Williams: Full disclosure, I have a sweet tooth for all Arizona Wildcats dating back to Sean Elliott (except Jason Terry). I’m still waiting for Hassan Adams and Mustafa Shakur to get their big breaks. Anyways, Williams didn’t exactly land in an ideal situation when he got to Minnesota, because he’s probably a stretch 4 and well, the Timberwolves already have that in Kevin Love (who I realize is more than that but it’s stupid to play them together). They’ve tried to make Williams shift back and forth between forward spots. That hasn’t really worked either. Williams has again fallen out of favor with Minnesota head coach Rick Adelman again and Williams is doing himself no favors. He literally has just one assist on the season. One. That’s not awesome. Neither is his PER (8.34) or field goal percentage (39).

The appeal of Williams can be found in the back half of last season, when he filled in for an injured Kevin Love and averaged 15 points and six rebounds a game. Clearly, there is some potential for productivity there. How would he fit in to the Spurs’ system? Likely as a more versatile Matt Bonner. Williams’ overall 3-point numbers aren’t great, but when you look at where the bulk of Bonner’s 3-pointers come from, Williams has potential to thrive in the Spurs system. He could play next to Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw and spell Kawhi Leonard for a few minutes a half if need be.

Giving up Bonner and Nando De Colo wouldn’t take anything away from the Spurs that other guys couldn’t make up for. If rumors are true, Adelman and Wolves President Flip Saunders want a veteran in return for Williams. Is Bonner good enough? Would the Spurs be willing to part with Diaw in a Williams package? There are definite questions on the defensive end, but the Spurs have turned lesser players into adequate defenders.

Boris Diaw, Nando De Colo, Aron Baynes and the rights to Davis Bertans for Omer Asik: Here are some questions, Spurs fans. What would you give up for Omer Asik? Would you do a Tiago Splitter for Asik swap? What about a Diaw and Bonner package? Asik is a stud defensively and cleans up on the glass. With Asik, the Spurs would be able to contend with any front line in basketball.

Here’s why the above deal is the only one I’d do for Asik. He would murder the Spurs spacing on offense in any other trade. Let’s say you package Bonner and Diaw. This means you have one big man, Duncan, who can  consistently hit a jump shot outside of 10 feet. I’m not trading Splitter because he’s become too important to the team’s pick-and-roll defense, not to mention the chemistry he’s developed playing with the starters and bench guys like Manu Ginobili. No, you have to hope Daryl Morey—or the T-1000 that has taken over for Morey—think Diaw would be the perfect match for Dwight Howard and sees something in De Colo or Baynes that he thinks the Rockets can nurture. However, Morey’s going to get the most out of Asik in a deal and that’s likely going to be more than the Spurs are willing to offer.

Tony Parker for Al Horford: Just Kidding. That’s it for now. Check back in a few weeks when players who signed this offseason become trade eligible. For the Spurs that means Marco Belinelli and Jeff Ayres.

  • Eric Westerman

    How about some action for Thad Young? Bonner + De Colo + CoJo. Seems due for one of Pop’s former proteges to do him a solid like Ainge got out of his buddies when he took over Boston.

  • Spursfan40

    So you’re trading Boris Diaw in 3 scenarios out of two, including for Derrick Williams… Diaw is as close to untouchable as it gets, he has been by far the best bench player so far, he can defend Carmelo and Lebron as well as anyone, has just scored his career high with the Spurs in the last game, BBiQ is incredible, can bully his man in the post as well as shoot the ball from the outside thus being a perpetual mismatch… And you’re trading him for Derrick Williams or a guy who can’t play with Splitter in Asik (since neither can shoot).

    But Tiago who only started a full PO series in his Spurs career is “too important”. Diaw replaced Duncan in the GState comeback, defending Bogut in the post and helping on Curry like a champ… Then he was awesome against Lebron when Mr “too important” played like 2 minutes the whole series and not that many the last two POs runs…

  • Gary

    Asik wants to be a starter not sharing time with Tiago

  • camroc

    You gotta be kidding about Diaw. Aside from Tony, he’s the cat’s PJs. We need him, especially since he’s started shooting lights out. Get real…

  • Jordan Hedge

    Honestly, the only trades I see happening would involve Bonner, De Colo, or CoJo. Considering the Spurs are trying to get one more title with TD, getting rid of any regular player, just to get someone new who might or might not even play many minutes, doesn’t make much sense. If they can get a future project or a decent backup at SF for some of those contracts I mentioned, then maybe. Otherwise, Spurs will likely stand pat. And honestly, I don’t need to see someone like Williams come in, and certainly not Asik when we have a less expensive, more productive version in Tiago. Asik would not have played many minutes against Miami last year either. Just look at when he played Miami in the 2011 ECF. He was arguably worse than Splitter in those 5 games.

  • EricDSal7

    With the expendable assets the Spurs are presumably willing to part with ( Bonner, Cojo, Nando), a relevant trade to improve the current roster/rotation is about as likely as Minka Kelly walking through my bedroom door (depressing reality) . This may be the first year in the past 5 years, where all of us Bill Simmons-like Spurs’ fans don’t plug away at the ESPN trade machine– simply because us average minded fans understand our expendable trading assets have about as much value as the two bowel movements we encounter on a daily basis. On the other hand, there will be some interesting names that may be available later on in the year as the contract-year players on lottery bound teams get bought out. Names like Trevor Ariza (who’d fit perfectly), Caron Butler ( meh), Ben Gordon (doesn’t fit), Ramon Sessions (always liked him; love Patty’s play this year though), Kris Humphries (interesting), Emeka Okafor (who’d fit perfectly) are all realistic possibilities to hit the open market via buy out. My best guess is Spurs will stand pat til around that time and then go hard after Ariza then Okafor if those scenario’s play out as anticipated. Maybe make an article on potential buy out candidates??!! Just a suggestion :). — Eric Salinas

  • ThatBigGuy

    To be fair, Asik’s salary cap hit is less that Splitter’s through the rest of Asik’s contract and he’s a better rebounder than Splitter. But i agree that Splitter is a better fit as the Spurs are currently constructed.

  • aespurs

    i doubt the clippers would go for it considering theyre in the same conference and might be one of those teams that believes in not doing deals with interconference rivals but heres a suggestion, although rather minuscule.

    Baynes and De Colo for Reggie Bullock

    i think everyones in agreement that our tradeable guys are cojo, nando, and bonner but i think baynes could be added to that list. no offense to him but he brings a lot of what jeff ayres brings to the table. his biggest value comes from his massive size against bigger, stronger centers in the league…meaning his value comes strictly against dwight howard since bynums never healthy and all the other strong centers in the league are either horrible at offense and/or in the east (hibbert, noah, etc.) The clippers however would like the trade for that exact reason. they need a strong defensive center who can hit free throws and just stay in the game and challenge shots from time to time. baynes is athletic enough to run with the clippers, yet strong enough to be somewhat of a defensive anchor for them. the spurs can get by with throwing three different bigs in duncan, splitter, and ayres on howard whenever the match up comes up. and if anything bonner even seemed to be able to check howard last year for small minute intervals. what the spurs get back is a swingman with pretty good size for playing as more of a spot up 2 but being able to slide to the 3. hes an insane shooter with good form that wont fade regardless of team or system, making him an excellent back up for kawhi. hes not playing at all for the clippers and i doubt thatll change for a few reasons such as theyll keep winning games without him making him look not that important, there are a few guys in front of him on the depth chart, and doc is one of those coaches reluctant to play rookies. in all, i see this as a trade that nets both teams upgrades in spots that they want upgraded rather than need upgraded by giving up on players they both know they wont really use themselves

  • Andy

    no-one is taking spare parts i.e decolo/bonner/baynes/cojo for any proven rotation capable player that hasn’t become a cancer, it’s just not happening without throwing in picks.
    Trading Diaw is crazy atm, having diaw with belli and ginobili allows mills and his lack of playmaking to play point in the second unit as opposed to having to run the other two out to try and run the team

  • wardy

    I like the trade idea for Derrick Williams and I dont want the Spurs to part with anyone of the roster aside from Bonner and DeColo, but they alone wont get Derrick Williams.
    How about this instead:-
    Spurs send Bonner, Clippers 2014 2nd round pick to Minnesota, DeColo and the Spurs lottery protected 2015 first round pick to Philadelphia
    Philadelphis sends Spencer Hawes to Minnesota
    Wolves send Williams to San Antonio, Shved, Dieng, Warriors 2014 2nd round pick and Nuggets 2015 2nd round pick to Philadelphia.
    I believe that trade would help all the teams involved and is something that all the teams could agree upon.