Now that December 15th has come and gone, the majority of free agents who signed deals with new teams over the summer are eligible to be traded.
Let’s see how the December 15th date impacts the Spurs players and some other important dates to watch going forward.
Players who can now be traded since December 15th passed:
DeMarre Carroll – Carroll signed a three year partially guaranteed deal over the summer. If he were traded between now and the February 6, 2020 trade deadline, his $7 million salary for this season would be used in a deal. With the emergence of Lonnie Walker IV at the 3 and Trey Lyles at the 4, Carroll hasn’t been able to crack the rotation, where he’s played in just 11 of the team’s 25 games this season.
Trey Lyles – Lyles was signed to a two year partially guaranteed deal over the summer, and if he were traded, his $5.5 million salary would be used in a deal. Lyles has actually been a core player for the Spurs this season, where he began as the starting 4, then he came off the bench, but, in the Spurs’ last win against the Suns, he found himself back in the starting lineup.
Luka Samanic, Keldon Johnson – Both rookies selected back in June have been going through the start of their NBA career through the typical route of the G-League with Austin to develop, rather than sitting behind the Spurs’ bench in suits.
The rest of the players on the Spurs’ roster can also be traded between now and the trade deadline EXCEPT Rudy Gay and Dejounte Murray. Since Gay re-signed with the team over the summer using his bird rights, he’s not eligible to be traded until January 15, 2020. After January 15, if Gay were to be included in a deal, his $14.5 million salary for this season would be used.
Murray recently signed a four-year extension back on October 21, so he can’t be traded for up to six months after that. His trade restriction date lifts on April 21, 2020, when the season would be over, and the playoffs would be in session.
Here’s where each of the other Spurs players stand with their contracts going forward.
DeMar DeRozan – DeRozan is earning $27.7 million this season and this summer; he and the Spurs could look to go in multiple directions if he’s not traded by February 6. DeRozan has a player option this summer, so he can either exercise the option and return to San Antonio for one more season making $27.7 million, or he can decline the option by June 29, 2020 and become an unrestricted free agent. DeRozan is also eligible to sign an extension with the Spurs until late June if he and the team had interest.
LaMarcus Aldridge – Aldridge is earning $26 million this season and on January 1, 2020, his guaranteed salary for the 2020-21 season will increase from $7 million to the full $24 million for next season.
Patty Mills – Mills is earning $12.4 million this season and next season he’s slated to earn $13.2 million.
Marco Belinelli – Belinelli is in the final year of his contract, earning $5.8 million this season. Since he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer and with the rise of Lonnie Walker IV taking over his role and minutes, the Spurs could gauge the market to see what other playoff teams who need shooting might offer for Belinelli between now and the February 6 trade deadline.
Jakob Poeltl – Poeltl is in the final year of his rookie contract, where he’s earning $3.7 million this season. The Spurs will have a good chance of re-signing him this summer since he’ll be a restricted free agent, so long as they tender him the $5 million qualifying offer by late June.
Bryn Forbes – Like Belinelli, Forbes is in the final year of his contract, where he’s earning $2.8 million. With Murray off his minutes restriction and Walker IV earning more minutes, Forbes has started to see his minutes decrease in the team’s last two games since he’s struggling with his outside shot and the other two players, along with the Derrick White, have more upside defensively. Forbes will be entering unrestricted free agency this July.
Lonnie Walker IV – Walker IV is earning $2.7 million this season and he’s only in year two of his rookie deal.
Derrick White – White is earning $1.9 million this season and he’s got one more season left next year on his rookie deal, before becoming a restricted free agent in the summer of 2021-22.
Chimezie Metu – Metu is earning $1.4 million this season, but, next season he has a non-guaranteed contract for $1.6 million. If by next October Metu still isn’t on the path to be in the rotation for the future, the team could look to either try to trade him before the trade deadline or waive him at some point in the offseason.
Something Bobby Marks of ESPN has brought up regarding the Spurs and making trades during the season, is that the Spurs seldom do make those type of deals. In fact, the last time San Antonio made an in-season trade was during the 2013-14 season, when they made a minor trade in moving Nando De Colo to Toronto for Austin Daye.
The one big difference between most prior seasons and now is that this is the first time in a long time, where the Spurs find themselves struggling to get into the playoff standings, while one of their core players (DeRozan) can walk away this summer if he chooses to decline his player option.
That makes this next month and half interesting to watch as the February 6 trade deadline approaches. If by late January the Spurs are either in the playoff picture or still within a few games of getting into the playoffs, the team might take a safer approach and continue to let this group try to make the playoffs without a trade.
If the team though finds themselves behind the 8th seed out West by about 7-10 games, then perhaps the organization will take a different approach and make some in-season trades before the February 6 trade deadline.
Salary information used in this piece comes from BasketballInsider.com and ESPN.com