The San Antonio Spurs aren't typically a significant player around the trade deadline, but that doesn't mean the front office isn't scouring the league in hopes of boosting the team.
After the release of Nicolas Laprovittola, San Antonio's roster stands at 14. Without moving a current player, the Spurs could fill that final spot by signing a free agent or trading a draft pick—think Ray McCallum last season.
Since San Antonio is 28-7, it would likely take a complete collapse before the deadline for general manager R.C. Buford to finalize a blockbuster deal involving LaMarcus Aldridge, whose name was previously the part of some early-season speculation.
Kawhi Leonard is the franchise's future. Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili aren't moving. Patty Mills, Dewayne Dedmon and David Lee are due just a combined $7.65 million this season, per HoopsHype. They're not going anywhere, either.
Consequently, there are a limited number of realistic options.
If the Spurs want a big-name option, it will require moving salary. If it's not Aldridge, that brings Pau Gasol into the picture. Otherwise, they'll seek out low-budget players. Don't expect San Antonio to find a suitor, but if the Spurs execute a trade, they would be wise to target one of these names.
Note: When applicable, trades are confirmed via ESPN's Trade Machine.
Because of the expansive gap in San Antonio's player salaries, any trade target with a contract paying more than $2 million—and not worthy of discussing Gasol in a larger deal—creates a problem.
Mario Hezonja and Omri Casspi have fallen out of the rotation for the Orlando Magic and Sacramento Kings, respectively, but the contract numbers don't work for the Spurs. The same goes for Kyle Korver and Thabo Sefolosha of the Atlanta Hawks.
Whether the Cavs are open to trading the Turkish guard straight up—particularly to the team that could meet them in the Finals—is the question. But Osman, at worst, is available.
Osman needs to improve his consistency as a shooter, but he's showed promise as a slasher and defender. With Anadolu Efes this year, he's averaged a career-high 11.6 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three and 46.7 percent overall, per RealGM.
Along with consistency, the next step in his development is to become a better playmaker. In five seasons overseas, Osman has never dished more than 1.3 assists per game.
If San Antonio isn't sold on Jonathon Simmons, Kyle Anderson or a current international rights-held player like Adam Hanga as a long-term reserve wing, Osman is a possibility—though not right now.
Cleveland could be set on using Osman as a potential sweetener in a different deal, in which case the Spurs don't have a chance. Regardless, inquiring about the 21-year-old is a good move.
Jeff Withey is a quality end-of-the-bench reserve who could develop into a regular rotational piece in the right place.
The problem for him is actually getting that chance.
A fourth-year center out of Kansas, the 7-footer is scrapping for time in a Utah Jazz frontcourt that relies on Rudy Gobert while giving 20-plus minutes apiece to Derrick Favors, Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw.
The Jazz might (and should) be reluctant to part with Withey, who is due just over $1 million in the final year of his contract, per HoopsHype. Having a shot-blocker like Withey available on the bench is a luxury in case Gobert goes down with an injury.
However, Withey has averaged just 9.2 minutes over 24 appearances and hasn't played in eight of Utah's last 10 games since Favors returned to the rotation after missing 13 games.
While San Antonio cannot offer a larger role, the 26-year-old would be a solid defensive-minded reserve for a team that contains just one legitimate rim protector in Dedmon. For Withey's career, he's blocked 2.8 shots per 36 minutes, according to Basketball-Reference.com. That number stands at a career-best 3.1 this season.
Depending on Utah's commitment to Favors and keeping Withey in case of emergency, it may be a tough pull. But if the Spurs could acquire Withey for a second-round pick, that's not a bad deal—especially if he were to re-sign this summer.
Stay with me here.
Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders recently tweeted: "The 76ers not interested in more youth, they want guys that can help turn the youth they have into real impact stars."
From a veteran perspective, Gasol fits that billing. The primary issue is that swapping him for Nerlens Noel does little to unclog the jam in the Philadelphia 76ers frontcourt. Thus, this hypothetical scenario requires a third party that is willing to ship an experienced guard.
ESPN's Marc Stein reported the "latest signals continue to suggest" Brandon Knight could be leaving the Phoenix Suns. Knight would be a nice addition for Philly, but Gasol would create a frontcourt issue in Phoenix too.
So let's keep him moving to the New Orleans Pelicans instead.
The Pels would send Tyreke Evans' expiring contract to the Suns, who could throw Philly a lottery-protected 2018 pick that delays until 2019. The Pelicans would also return the 76ers' 2017 second-round pick received in the Ish Smith trade.
The final piece from New Orleans is sending Quincy Pondexter to Philadelphia, because he has just two years remaining on a small deal. And the Sixers would move Richaun Holmes to Phoenix.
San Antonio takes the greatest risk, sacrificing a heady player like Gasol in a drastic change of tendencies as the team chases a title. But the potential reward is appealing too.
The Spurs must be confident Noel is willing to accept hard coaching and is capable of becoming a dominant rim protector. But stylistically, he's an excellent fit defensively and would take few touches away from Aldridge.
While Noel has 20-plus-point scoring potential as a finisher only, the 6'11" center's greatest asset is his defensive prowess. As a starter during 2014-15 and 2015-16, he averaged 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks in addition to his 10.5 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists.
One issue is that Noel will be a restricted free agent. But the bright side for San Antonio is since he lost a spot in Philly's rotation, Noel won't command a salary close to Gasol's $16 million; he would be a younger, cheaper option in the rotation.
Executing this trade would have the potential of disrupting the team's pursuit of a championship this year. Considering the future of the roster, though, it's worth exploring.