On whether the Spurs factor in with early trade candidates
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.
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.