This is starting to feel like the end of the San Antonio Spurs’ run as one of the better teams in the Western Conference. They haven’t finished below .500 since the 1996-97 season, which is also the last time they missed the playoffs. Since Gregg Popovich took over as coach, the Spurs have never missed the playoffs, a streak which is certainly in some danger.
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Spurs unlikely to deal DeRozan, Aldridge, per report
Update, Feb. 3: The San Antonio Spurs are unlikely to deal both DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge before Thursday’s trade deadline at 3:00 p.m. ET, CNBC’s Jabari Young reported. DeRozan and Aldridge each have similar contracts that have another year left after this season, plus the salaries are in the mid-$20M range. It would be difficult for the Spurs to deal one or both players and make it fit, plus they’d be giving up on this season, which isn’t customary for the franchise.
The Spurs want to compete for the playoffs, even though it may mean an early first-round exit. If that’s the case, they will likely hold onto both DeRozan and LMA. But Young notes in the report that Rudy Gay could be the guy who gets moved. Gay has one more year on his contract after this season at $14M per season. That’s more manageable to move and Gay can provide some veteran scoring off the bench, playing both the 3 and 4 if healthy.
Should the Spurs trade a point guard?
Murray, Derrick White, Bryn Forbes, and Patty Mills are all essentially point guards with nearly identical scoring numbers. San Antonio hasn’t had a legitimate floor general since the glory days of Tony Parker. Is having a rotation in which all four of these players log more than 20 minutes a night the right move? Murray is off the table because of the extension he signed in season, but they rest are available and could garner interest from teams looking for an offensive boost and depth. Options can be valuable, but so can establishing a style of play with a definitive starter. White is the most enticing and could help bring back a more desirable return if moved with DeRozan, Aldridge, or both.
— Ameer Tyree
Update, Jan. 17: A report from The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson states the Spurs are undecided on whether to keep DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge past this upcoming NBA Trade Deadline. Jackson also reports that the Miami Heat are a potential landing spot for one of the studs.
The Heat could include a package of expiring contracts, Derrick Jones Jr. and/or Kendrick Nunn in a deal for DeRozan or Aldridge. It’s a bit of a stretch, but Miami seems adamant on adding more talent to the core of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in a potential title hunt. The Spurs aren’t going anywhere this season and making the playoffs would only hurt their draft stock in June. It may be wise to have a fire sale now and jumpstart a rebuild.
— Ben Zweiman
Should the Spurs be Sellers at the Deadline?
It doesn’t seem super likely that the Spurs will make the playoffs. They are certainly in the mix, but currently sit on the outside of the playoff picture looking in. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Spurs currently only have an 8% chance of making the playoffs. Even if they make it in, they would most likely be looking at an early exit playing against the Los Angeles Lakers or whoever ends up as the top seed in the West. For this reason, I think it makes sense for the Spurs to look forward to the future. DeMar DeRozan is playing extremely well lately and San Antonio could probably get back some future assets for him. Given the history of the team, I don’t think the Spurs will pull the plug although it’s what I would be looking to do if I was in their situation.
If the Spurs do decide to try to compete this season, they could use a starting caliber player who can shoot threes. 30.8% of the Spurs shot attempts are threes, the lowest rate in the league. It’s no surprise that their 10.3 threes made per game makes them one of the least prolific teams from deep in the league. Part of the issue is that the Spurs’ best players aren’t shooters. Dejounte Murray has made 15 threes and DeRozan has made eight threes this season. LaMarcus Aldridge is shockingly shooting 44.7% from three, but he rarely shoots. Adding a shooter to the starting unit would really help open up the lane for Murray and DeRozan.