Everyone knows the San Antonio Spurs are all about consistency, changing rotation players as little as possible during the season. For that reason, they have only made one mid-season trade in the last six years that affected the rotation (Stephen Jackson at the 2012 deadline).
With that in mind, it’s easy to rule the Spurs out of trying to make some sort of impacting deal this year. They’ve kept the same roster from last season, aside from one rotation switch by adding Marco Belinelli to replace Gary Neal. Their record is 20-5, which is third-best in the West. Not too shabby.
However, they know that the chances of a championship are running out soon. After the 2014-15 season, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, who have been pretty efficient this season, are most likely to retire. A team doesn’t recover from losing pieces like that, especially Duncan. After that it’s either middle-seed purgatory or blow it all up.
Is that enough for them to consider making a splash in the trade market for one more piece to put them over the top? Perhaps. For a team that made it to Game 7 of the Finals last season, there aren’t any huge holes to fill in the roster. The additions to seek are ones that would be little, but just enough.
As to where they can find spots to improve would be at the 2-guard and depth at the 4. Ginobili has gotten back to producing as a potential Sixth Man of the Year, while Belinelli has fit in like a glove to the Spurs system. However, Ginobili’s positioning has been spread all over, at times being the ballhandler to playing small forward while Kawhi Leonard rests.
Danny Green‘s production hasn’t improved like many thought it would. His points per game has decreased from last year and his ability to drive and finish at the rim is still awful. He provides above-average defense, but often can be a liability because of his one-dimensional offense. The last guard on the depth chart is Nando De Colo, and his days as a Spur are numbered.
In the frontcourt, Duncan, Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw are the base of it all. The team has experimented with Aron Baynes and Jeff Ayres as the fourth big man, but neither has produced favorable and consistent results yet.
Baynes had a couple impressive games last week, but in the long run it may not matter much. He’s made his living on offense on put-backs and pick-and-rolls, but has no jumpshot whatsoever. He’s athletic enough to keep up with other bigs running down the court, but his quickness is also a weakness. His reactions are just a bit too slow to keep consistent minutes.
Ayres has been a true energy guy so far, slamming it down the throat of the rim every chance he has a dunk opportunity. All the talk you hear about new players needing a lot of time in the Spurs system to fit holds true with Ayres. He’s more mobile than Baynes and has a decent jumper, but in the short time he’s been on the court, his stone hands have been unforgettable. He can cut, but has a lot of trouble catching and finishing. He also has trouble defending in the paint, which is crucial.
Now looking at the issues in actually make a trade for better pieces, the financial side and assets bring up many more. Green is slated for about $4 million a year through next season, Baynes is a restricted free agent this summer is making about $800,000, and Ayres is only $1.75 million this season and $1.8 million next year. If you add in De Colo, that’s about $8 million in total salary to be shipped out. The team also has draft picks, but they are almost always late round picks, which aren’t all that appealing.
Besides, who’s going to be accepting Spurs scraps for a quality player in return? Green is clearly the biggest piece, so they would have to find a player to get them over the hump that’s making between $4 million and 8 million on a team that would most likely be going through a rebuilding phase if they would accept what the Spurs have to offer.
The trade market isn’t all too kind to the Spurs right now, but it’s the Spurs after all. They preach routine and consistency, and they may just rule themselves out of any trade talks before they can get into them. Though they may not make any impacting moves, just keep an eye out for them at the deadline.