As we approach the trade deadline…
The NBA’s trade deadline is at 2 pm central time on Thursday afternoon. The San Antonio Spurs, holders of the best record in the NBA, are on the frayed edges of the thick of all the trade rumors. There have been rumblings of the Spurs showing interest in both Al Jefferson of the Utah Jazz and the Hawks’ Josh Smith.
Nothing like that is probably going to happen, though.
The Spurs’ rankings are exactly where they want them to be right now. Fourth in offensive efficiency. Third in defensive efficiency. Fifth in defensive rebound percentage. The Spurs have had the best record in the league the last two seasons but haven’t boasted the defensive chops they do this year.
The only trades worthwhile for the Spurs are those that can improve the top three or four players in the rotation, increasing the team’s ceiling come playoff time; San Antonio doesn’t have a need for more depth. As we’ve seen, the depth simply isn’t as important come playoff time as playing your best players as long as possible.
That’s not likely to happen because in order for the Spurs to make something like that happen, they’ll either have to gut the rotation, losing the depth that is so valuable for keeping older players fresh during the regular season, or trade Stephen Jackson. Dealing Jack isn’t a major loss, especially with how he’s shooting this season (26 percent from 3-point range), but most teams are unlikely to take on the mercurial forward.
It’s no small secret around the league that the only coach and locker room that can really keep Jack in check and under control is in San Antonio. A team could be willing to take on the rest of Jack’s salary this season and buy him out or simply keep him away from their team, but it would take an owner with deep pockets to sign off on that.
Instead, what we’re likely to see is a simple trade involving DeJuan Blair. When the Spurs signed Aron Baynes, the writing wasn’t on the wall, but markers had been taken out. Baynes does similar things that Blair does and the Australian can do them taller. The Spurs are rumored to have been shopping Blair since the summer in an effort to get a first round pick back, but no one has taken the bait.
If R.C. Buford and Co. don’t get the offer that they want for Blair, I expect them to keep him around through the end of the season. Though emotional, Blair hasn’t been a distraction for the team this season despite his uncertain status. He’s an expiring contract and the Spurs will simply absorb the savings when he comes off the books this summer.
The Spurs are in an advantageous position this trade deadline. They’re exactly where they want to be in the standings and, health aside, have playoff-ready roster to work with. Breaking up that rhythm and chemistry just for the sake of making a move would be a mistake. Aside from a minor deal involving the fringes of the active roster, a massive shakeup for a borderline All-Star is simply a reach that’s not likely to happen.
Team rankings courtesy of NBA.com/Stats