The San Antonio Spurs have unexpectedly seen their names come up recently in trade rumors involving several stars. Considering that the Spurs are a small-market team, that is all the more surprising, though they have a few things working in their favor. For starters, they have Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich, who has won five championships and is widely viewed as the greatest coach of all time.
Popovich may have an icy public persona, but he seems to be beloved by players around the league, many of whom have played against him for years, and he’s earned their respect. Then there is the number-one overall pick.
Victor Wembanyama is seen as a future superstar, and while he has had a bumpy rookie season, he has already flashed the potential that many have been salivating over for more than a year. That has put a lot of eyes on San Antonio, including other stars, some of whom appear open to playing alongside him.
The latest intel proves Wembanyama is making the Spurs a trade destination.
This past summer, Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo’s future was up in the air. Although it no longer appears to be that way, the Spurs were seen as one of the frontrunners to acquire him were he to demand a trade or leave in free agency. Additionally, Damian Lillard was reportedly open to being moved to the Spurs after he asked the Portland Trail Blazers to be traded, partly because of his relationship with Popovich.
However, he likely wouldn’t have even considered them as a potential option had they not had Wembanyama. Now comes word that Chicago Bulls star Zach LaVine is also interested in joining the Spurs, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. His interest appears to be directly tied to wanting to play with Wembanyama.
It’s unclear if the Spurs would have a mutual interest in LaVine considering he is much older than their young core and is owed a total of $180 million over this season and the next three seasons. Still, his interest in joining the Spurs highlights a trend. Having a star, or, especially, a superstar, makes it easier to acquire another one.
After all, stars tend to talk to one another, and they often recruit each other. The most famous example is Dwayne Wade recruiting LeBron James and Chris Bosh to the Miami Heat, though the Spurs have almost formed a super team several times.
While the Spurs have had plenty of stars in the past, they haven’t always had success adding stars via trades or free agency. In 2002, they almost acquired Jason Kidd, which would have added him to a team that included Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. Too bad. Later, the Spurs did manage to sign all-star LaMarcus Aldridge, pairing him with a core that had recently won a championship.
In 2017, Kyrie Irving and Paul George were both open to being traded to the Spurs to team up with Kawhi Leonard and the Big 3. Leonard, of course, later forced a trade, and the team was eventually forced to rebuild, leading to San Antonio drafting Wembanyama.
After an ugly start, the San Antonio Spurs appear worse than last season, with their Jeremy Sochan experiment at point guard holding both them and him back.
With Wembanyama, the Spurs are suddenly relevant again, and with plenty of assets, they can go hard after a star that they feel will be a great fit alongside their new franchise player. All in all, it appears that the Spurs are just beginning to reap the benefits of Wembanyama’s star power. In fact, it could result in another star soon joining him in San Antonio.