Rumors: Spurs Have Interest in Nikola Vucevic, Alize Johnson

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With the March 25 NBA trade deadline drawing closer with each passing day, there will likely be trade rumors involving the San Antonio Spurs up until the deadline.

Last week, the Athletic reported the Spurs have been taking calls on their veteran players DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Patty Mills, and Trey Lyles, and we covered this rumor in a conversation on the most recent Spurscast episode.

Monday in his ‘Power Rankings’ article, Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer wrote about two other rumors involving the Spurs having interest in Nikola Vucevic and Alize Johnson (H/T HoopsRumors.com).

The Vucevic Rumor

Here’s what O’Connor wrote: The Heat, Spurs, Celtics, and Hornets have all expressed significant interest in acquiring All-Star center Nikola Vucevic, league sources say.

Vucevic was named an All-Star this season where he’s been averaging 24.6 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 1 steal in 33.9 minutes per game. He’s attempting 6.5 threes per game and making 41.2% of those attempts.

Vucevic is currently making $26 million this season and he has two guaranteed years left on his deal for $24 million and $22 million. The Magic are currently $2.8 million from being a luxury tax team and they’re likely trying to avoid that with being the second worst team in the East by record at 13-23.

O’Connor writes that front office executives around the league are ‘skeptical’ that the Magic would move Vucevic, and if they did, the price would be high.

Financially, an Aldridge for Vucevic swap would work without including other players, but the Spurs would likely be attaching a pick/picks in such a deal. This type of deal would make the Spurs a luxury tax team, while keeping Orlando out of the tax.

As for the Spurs’ 2021 cap space, that would be trimmed from $48.7 million to $25.6 million with Vucevic.

Again though here are the key questions for each club:

  • For Orlando: Would they want Aldridge and a future pick or picks?
  • For Orlando: Would they want Aldridge and a young player?
  • For Orlando: If not Aldridge, which veteran player would Orlando want?
  • For San Antonio: Would they want to move a future pick and Aldridge?
  • For San Antonio: Would they be willing to move Aldridge and one of the young players?
  • For San Antonio: If not Aldridge, which of the Spurs’ other veterans would they be willing to move for Vucevic?

We also don’t know if the Heat, Celtics, and Hornets have better deals that Orlando might be more intrigued by. If the Spurs are aggressive in trying to trade for Vucevic, it could signal he might be their 2021 acquisition if they think the cap space they’ll have isn’t going to bring a key free agent to the team this summer.

The Johnson Rumor

Here’s what O’Connor wrote: A league source says in addition to the Raptors, the Magic, Rockets, Spurs, and Suns have also expressed interest in signing Johnson.

Johnson currently is participating in the G-League with the Raptors 905 team. In the G-League bubble, he’s averaging 16.6 points, 13.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in 32 minutes.

Since Johnson is not signed to an NBA team, the Spurs could offer him an NBA contract and since they have an open roster spot, he could be signed to the team. This means the two questions to watch are, do the Spurs and other teams offer him a contract? If so, who would he choose to sign with for the second half of the season?

 

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