NBA Trade Rumors: 10 Deadline Deals to Guarantee San Antonio Spurs an NBA Title
Do the San Antonio Spurs really need to mess with a good thing? Do they really even need to make a move before the NBA trade deadline?
Aren't they already poised for another NBA championship?
They easily have the best record in the league, being five games ahead of Miami, L.A. and Boston. What's more, they are on a solid pace to win 65-plus games this season—usually a good indicator of an upcoming title.
Why mess with a good thing?
An article like this will surely incur numerous comments from Spurs fans to the effect of, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?!?! We're doing just fine as it is and don't need to mess this up! WHY ARE YOU WRITING THIS?"
Don't worry. I hear you.
On the other hand, outside of San Antonio, comments are frequently made along the lines of: "I don't care what the Spurs' record is, they're still not good enough to beat the Heat, Celtics or Lakers."
I hear that, too.
Which argument are we to believe?
The Spurs are good enough to win the title right now as is.
Yet, they are in no way a lock for it.
In fact, as much as it pains me to say it, I still would put my money on Boston or Los Angeles in a seven-game series.
The Spurs are playing fast and loose right now, scoring more freely than they ever have during the Popovich/Duncan Era (sixth in points per game).
Tony Parker is solidly in his prime right now, Manu Ginobili is resurgent and Tim Duncan is using every last ounce that's left in the tank. The bench has more youth and spark than it ever had, and there are still enough battle-tested veterans around to execute in the clutch.
Yet, the Spurs are still not a sure thing.
Their front-line depth is questionable, they are no longer a top-10 defensive team and they might not have enough star firepower when it comes to certain impending playoff matchups.
Thus, here are 10 ways (some blockbusters, others thrifty) to put the Spurs closer to another NBA championship trophy.
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San Antonio gets: Jeff Foster & protected first-round pick
Indiana gets: Tiago Splitter, James Anderson & Chris Quinn
Jeff Foster has his detractors, and this is giving up a pair of players the Spurs really like. So, let me explain myself right away.
Tiago Splitter simply isn't ready yet. We've been hearing about this kid for the past four years, while the Spurs waited for him to come over from Brazil.
I think he'll be valuable enough in the future, but he's just not ready yet.
James Anderson will also be a solid NBA player someday, but he's stuck behind Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal right now. This is an asset that's lying around—unused.
You can't have that on a team so close to a championship, even one that is trying to get younger at the same time.
Yes, Jeff Foster is old and not especially athletic.
However, he's still one of the best per-minute rebounders in the league. He's still a very capable defender. He can hit the mid-range jumper—Antonio McDyess style—and he still sets good picks.
Besides Tim Duncan, the Spurs do not have anything resembling a true center on the roster.
Matt Bonner, Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair have all been asked to man the middle as undersized partners to Duncan.
Whether it's against L.A. or Boston, that is going to be a problem at some point in the playoffs.
Trading for Jeff Foster would be expensive, but he is the type of veteran who fits what San Antonio is trying to do. When on the floor, Foster would allow every other Spurs big man to slide to their more natural power forward spot.
This is not a big-splash move, and it is a little pricey, but it might be the final piece of size and toughness for a championship rotation.
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San Antonio gets: Tayshaun Prince & Chris Wilcox
Detroit gets: Richard Jefferson, Tiago Splitter & second-round pick
Richard Jefferson was brought in by the Spurs last year to space the floor and create shots. His struggles to successfully do this were well-documented.
While Jefferson has been more effective this season, and he did graciously restructure his contract, he still hasn't been anything close to what San Antonio expected.
This quicker Spurs pace is certainly helping, but Richard Jefferson still needs the ball in his hands too much, he's not a natural spot-up shooter, and his defense is still questionable.
Tayshaun Prince, on the other hand, specializes as a spot-up shooter, is still a very good defender and is absolutely hungry to be in a winning environment again.
He would add a new dimension to the Spurs with his ability to defend elite swingmen like Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and LeBron James. In addition, his size allows him to play spot minutes at power forward, which could pair well with Tim Duncan in crunch time or when the Spurs want to go small.
Prince's contract is a little excessive, but it expires this year, and there's a good chance that he'd be eager to re-sign.
Giving up Tiago Splitter hurts again, but he's one of the few expendable assets that San Antonio has. What's more, he's probably the only way that this deal gets done. Yes, Jefferson's contract is reasonable and less than Prince's, but it also lasts for a few seasons.
However, the Pistons absolutely need front-line help, and this deal ensures they won't lose Prince for nothing. Splitter would benefit from getting immediate minutes, and the potential of eventually pairing him with Greg Monroe is truly intriguing.
The Pistons would throw in little-used Chris Wilcox as a depth body for the Spurs front line, thereby giving San Antonio five-and-a-half bigs (Prince is the half), as opposed to the five they have right now.
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San Antonio gets: Antawn Jamison & Ryan Hollins
Cleveland gets: Richard Jefferson, Tiago Splitter & Chris Quinn
Antawn Jamison has some of the same limitations that Jefferson does. He's a capable, but not an overly effective, outside shooter, his quickness is slowly slipping away and he needs the ball in his hands quite a bit.
At the same time, Jamison has low-post ability to go along with his shooting, is a slightly better defender and can also play the power forward spot. Jamison's contract is more expensive but is also a year shorter than Jefferson's.
Finally, like the Tayshaun Prince scenario, Antawn Jamison is desperate to play for a winner again.
Basically, Jamison can do no worse than Jefferson has done in the Spurs' system but has the potential to offer more. That kind of upside is enough to spend Tiago Splitter on.
Is this enough in return for Cleveland? I suppose some could argue that better deals may be out there.
Yet, Richard Jefferson would pair better than Antawn Jamison does with JJ Hickson and Anderson Varejao next season. What's more, his contract is nearly $5 million less per year. Cleveland also acquires another low-post prospect, while only having to give up dead weight in Ryan Hollins.
Like the Tayshaun Prince scenario, Jamison would also count as adding half a "big," even as he would spend most of his time at small forward for the Spurs. Hollins would be the throw-in fifth big man.
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Spurs get: Andre Iguodala & Tony Battie
76ers get: Richard Jefferson, Tiago Splitter, James Anderson & second-round pick
Yes, you are seeing a pattern develop here.
Tiago Splitter and James Anderson are both valuable assets (and former first-round picks) that are simply better put to use as trade pieces, rather than sitting on the bench during a title run.
A developing team like the 76ers would surely covet two more prospects, while also being able to replace a lot of Iguodala's scoring at a fraction of the price. What's more, Richard Jefferson's contract is also a year shorter.
Not a bad deal for a player that the 76ers have already been looking to move.
If you're the Spurs, this deal is obviously a no-brainer. (In fact, the Spurs shouldn't even blink at throwing in a future first-round pick, if the 76ers insisted.)
"Iggy" is not a natural spot-up shooter either, but his athleticism, defensive ability and "near star" power would be a welcome addition for the Spurs.
Tony Battie is thrown in as that fifth bench body for the Spurs, but at least he's a natural center as well.
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San Antonio gets: Kris Humphries & Stephen Graham
New Jersey gets: James Anderson, Tiago Splitter & second-round pick
Kris Humphries has been the unheralded surprise of this NBA season.
He's averaging nine points and nine rebounds in barely 25 minutes per game.
So, why in the world would the Nets let him away now?
Kris Humphries has an expiring contract, and with highly-touted big men like Brook Lopez and Derrick Favors already regarded as the Nets' foundation, it's rather unlikely that Humphries will re-sign with New Jersey.
Why not sell high now and turn him into some assets for later? (Something the Nets are actually in short supply of.)
For the Spurs, this could become another classic heist. Here's a high motor, high intelligence guy who's been flying under the radar since coming into the league. His physicality and ability to thrive off garbage points alone would pair well with Tim Duncan and the rest of San Antonio's scorers.
His numbers may be aberrations, but the Spurs would be taking advantage of that now when they need his toughness the most. This would allow them to play Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess based on situations, rather than absolute necessity.
That's absolutely worth a pair of players and picks who otherwise won't be contributing to this year's run.
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San Antonio gets: Jason Thompson
Sacramento gets: James Anderson, Chris Quinn & first-round pick
Similar to the Jeff Foster scenario, this trade allows San Antonio to beef up their front line for the playoffs.
Jason Thompson would add a measure of athleticism that the Spurs simply don't have with any of their posts (DeJuan Blair included).
While Thompson doesn't have the experience or execution that Jeff Foster does, his length and ability to man both the power forward and center spots would make him another perfect option to play alongside Tim Duncan. Again, he would also allow Antonio McDyess, Matt Bonner or Blair to slide to their natural positions.
Finally, pairing Thompson and Blair would be an interesting foundation in the post-Duncan years.
Thompson was once considered a key building block in Sacramento, but he's being lost in a crowded frontcourt, as the Kings struggle to also find enough minutes for Carl Landry, Sam Dalembert and DeMarcus Cousins.
Carl Landry could also probably be had for a similar price, but I think this deal makes better sense for both the Spurs and Kings if Thompson is involved instead.
Landry is athletic and could help the Spurs in the scoring and rebounding departments, but he would be yet another undersized big man for them. The Kings, however, are a bit duplicitous with Cousins, Thompson and Dalembert. Landry brings some quickness to the table that they otherwise lack.
Kings fans might feel that this price is too low, but remember that James Anderson was a well-regarded first-round pick who has already been effective as a rookie.
The problem with Anderson is not ability—just opportunity. Gary Neal has played so well this season and has the ability to play both guard spots, thus making Anderson the odd man out in the Spurs backcourt rotation.
With Sacramento looking for an athletic, multi-talented guard to pair with Tyreke Evans, and having moved Beno Udrih to the third guard in the rotation, James Anderson and a pick might be worth the cost.
If I were San Antonio, I would be willing to negotiate this price, if pushed. Thompson might be worth an additional second-round pick, Tiago Splitter or Gary Neal instead of Anderson.
Adding his athleticism to the Spurs front line would be worth nearly any of the combinations discussed here.
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The only non-trade scenario on the list. This one requires the Nets to buy Troy Murphy out from the final months of his contract.
Murphy was a hot commodity last year, but you'd have a better chance of finding Jimmy Hoffa in New Jersey these days.
Still, Troy Murphy's unusual blend of rebounding and outside shooting will be in high demand if and when the Nets realize they can't move him at the trade deadline.
Murphy does a lot of things that Matt Bonner already handles, but he'd be a low-cost, high-reward depth sub for the Spurs.
As they can't (and shouldn't) trade for his giant contract outright, they should do all they can to facilitate a buyout and acquire Murphy's services for the duration.
This "persuasion" could take the form of a ridiculous side deal, such as a second-round pick or two for nonentities like Stephen Graham or Quinton Ross. It would be worth it to add this kind of size and depth.
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San Antonio gets: Deron Williams & Raja Bell
Utah gets: Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter & James Anderson
I'm not going to lie. I've written about this trade once already, here.
However, recent events obviously make this idea worth mentioning again.
Despite whatever rumors are recently floating about, Deron Williams, like John Stockton and Karl Malone before him, was one of the few stars able to not only get past the Jerry Sloan "ego check" but embrace it. Usually.
Deron Williams has again reiterated his desire to win, his need for a championship-driven organization and a proven system. Yet, are the Jazz going to be a contender during the duration of Williams' contract?
A rookie coach and a roster about to undergo serious changes once again suggest that this may not be the case.
Now might be the time for the Spurs to snatch Williams away.
Regardless of his contract status, he'd be likely to re-sign with San Antonio. They have that established coach, a franchise committed (and proven) to winning championships and an environment not so very different from what he had in Utah.
Would the Spurs really shake things up this much?
I think they would if Deron Williams was available.
San Antonio is clearly transitioning from the Tim Duncan era, where nearly all offense originated from the post.
The new-look Spurs are getting out to run and currently have the legs to do it, but are going to need a better facilitator than Tony Parker if this is a long-term philosophy change. They need someone who can not only create their own shots (as Parker does) but will also be the floor general who puts everyone else in position to succeed.
It's not that Tony Parker can't or doesn't already do this. It's just that Williams is two years younger and already does it better.
Tony Parker is an excellent point guard and a building block for any team.
Deron Williams is a legitimate star and a foundation on which to anchor a team.
If I were the Spurs, I would gamble with the in-season chemistry adjustments this trade would cause, if it meant that I was positioned to move seamlessly into the next era.
For the Jazz, this trade would give them two very intriguing prospects without really missing a beat. Adding Tony Parker, (a guy who's experienced and also extremely adept at pick and roll offenses), would allow them to stay in contention on nearly the same path they've already committed to.
Plus, Parker's not going anywhere for the next four seasons, allowing the Jazz to move on quickly from whatever just happened in Salt Lake City.
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San Antonio gets: Carmelo Anthony, Shelden Williams, Anthony Carter & Melvin Ely
Denver gets: Richard Jefferson, Gary Neal, James Anderson & Tiago Splitter
Here's another previously written idea that just makes too much sense not to revisit. (I wrote about it here.)
Would Carmelo Anthony still doggedly pine for New York if he could be the next piece in the Spurs' next dynasty?
He might not be Gregg Popovich’s type, but this could be worth a shot.
Having multiple weapons is nice. In fact, it's a necessity to win a championship.
However, I sometimes still wonder if San Antonio's offense is spread out between too many role players right now. What will happen if Manu or Tony Parker are neutralized in a series?
The Spurs may need a little more firepower that's concentrated in one player if they're going to win it all.
Their bench would also still feature George Hill, Matt Bonner and Antonio McDyess, along with the spare but usable veterans acquired from Denver.
Undoubtedly, the Spurs would want some sort of nod that this was not a rental, as they're giving up a trio of bright-futured players. If so, this might be sacrificing some sure-thing prospects, but the Spurs would also still have a clear foundation for the future.
What's more, they've always been good at unearthing more role players. They could certainly do it again next year.
Denver stays in the hunt with Jefferson’s production and Neal’s upside, while also getting two other intriguing prospects in the process.
This is the type of deal that, if Carmelo signed off on it (and he would be stupid not to), would give the Nuggets a lot to think about.
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San Antonio gets: Stephen Jackson & second-round pick
Charlotte gets: Richard Jefferson & James Anderson
Is this a deal with the devil?
Some Spurs fans might see this as fairly Faustian, but I would make this trade in a heartbeat. Let's weigh the reasons why:
Richard Jefferson and Stephen Jackson have nearly identical contracts, yet Jackson's production has been slightly better during the past season-and-a-half.
In fact, Jackson's offensive numbers are noticeably greater than Jefferson's; the problem is that he turns the ball over twice as much, too.
Stephen Jackson is able to shoot, run the floor and facilitate at Jefferson's level, (again, the turnover difference evens things out in the end). However, when motivated, he is a much better defender and rebounder.
Yes, Jackson is a headcase, but he's also been managed by Greg Popovich before. He's also already won a championship with the Spurs.
The fact that he's a wild card works in the Spurs' favor, as Charlotte will be willing to part with him for a fairly reasonable price.
Stephen Jackson brings a certain nastiness and swagger that the Spurs don't necessarily have right now but will need in the Playoffs. This attitude doesn't work for an also-ran like the Bobcats but could be channeled beautifully in the service of a title run.
Charlotte would get to move on from Jackson's moodiness for the same money, while also picking up a badly needed guard prospect.
This will only work if Greg Popovich can get Stephen Jackson to buy into his role and the glow of a championship trophy.
They've done it together before.