By Aaron Meullion
The NBA trade deadline has to be one of the most exciting and highly anticipated dates on the NBA calendar. A day rivaling daytime soap operas in both drama and completely unpredictable storylines. This perfect storm of headlines leaves fanbases frantically refreshing Twitter only to be set ablaze by players tweeting emojis, “verified sources” and the inevitable “Woj bomb” that sends waves across the NBA!
And yet, another trade deadline has come & gone without the Spurs even making a ripple…
The mid-season spectacle has become a bit of a snooze-fest for Spurs fans in recent years. In fact, the Spurs haven’t made a move at the NBA trade deadline since the 2014 “MEGA blockbuster” that swapped 4.1ppg scorer Austin Daye for third-string point guard Nando De Colo. Daye would later bounce back & forth between the D-League affiliate & the championship Spurs roster that went on to hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy later that season.
So at least he got a ring out of it.
For more on the trade deadline, listen to Collin Reid’s post-deadline thoughts.
While San Antonio’s front office might not be known for significant roster restructures midway through the year; the Spurs 2020 campaign has been a bit shy of conventional, to say the least. The team finds itself 22-28 entering the deadline with both historic and current playoff implications at stake. Halfway through the very season they were poised to break the league record for consecutive playoff appearances; they currently sit 10th in the Western Conference.
In jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the 1st time in 23 years.
This is hardly the fault of Spurs star DeMar DeRozan, who has scored 20+ points in 37 games this season. Scoring like that doesn’t go unnoticed in this league, however, it wasn’t enough to earn him All-Star accolades. This will also be the first year San Antonio won’t have an All-Star representative in 23 years… noticing a pattern?
While DeRozan will be absent from this year’s All-Star Game, he has been present in trade rumors all season. To further complicate things, he’s on an expiring deal with a $27 million dollar player-option. Arguably the greatest fear of modern-day NBA front offices is to have a player of such caliber opt-out and become an unrestricted free agent; able to walk out the door without any possible compensation via trade.
We’ve seen such decisions throw franchises like the Cleveland Cavaliers into utter free fall. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors were each rocked by the departure of Kevin Durant. The Toronto Raptors seem to have moved on from Kawhi Leonards exit in free agency, and have even remained a title contender; while San Antonio is still trying to recover from the controversial trade demand that sent Leonard north for DeRozan.
Two minutes after the 3 pm (est) trade deadline passed, NBA Insider Chris Haynes tweeted the following:
The San Antonio Spurs did not make a deal before the deadline, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 6, 2020
An underwhelming headline amidst a sea of four-team deals and blockbuster trades. This subtly leaves the immediate future of this franchise squarely on the shoulders of DeMar’s decision this offseason. He could opt-in, and allow the Spurs one more year to try and convince him to remain in San Antonio. Or he could follow the pattern of multiple recent NBA superstars and choose the more powerful negotiating position as an unrestricted free agent.
DeRozan’s contractual option this coming off-season could decide when the Spurs begin their inevitable rebuild. At the very least, it will be the catalyst. Seven-time All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge is on a deal set to expire in 2021, as well as veterans Rudy Gay and Patty Mills; leaving promising young guard Dejounte Murray the only player currently signed through the end of next season.
Failing to make a move by yesterday’s deadline has firmly placed the ball in DeMar’s court and the Spurs front office find themselves in the same position as the fans… collectively holding their breath, to see if he puts up a Kobe Bryant-Esque fade-away, or decides to pass…