The NBA trade deadline is February 7th, less than a month away, so over the course of the next month, I’ll be looking at each player at a given position (guards, wings, and bigs) and their current and future role with the team, leading into a bigger trade deadline preview. First up are the Spurs’ guards.
With the early season injuries to Derrick White and Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes has been an important player for Spurs this season. He is scoring 120.3 points per 100 shot attempts and shooting 43.7% from three-point range, according to Cleaning The Glass. His salary for this season is $3,125,000 and $2,875,000 next season, meaning that if the Spurs wanted to trade him to get off his salary, other teams could be willing to trade for him without another Spurs’ asset in the deal. However, unless there is a free agent that indicates he would be willing to join the Spurs and the only way to sign that player is opening up an extra 2.9 million dollars, that isn’t a trade the Spurs will likely make. They especially are unlikely to move him, or any of their guards currently in the rotation at the trade deadline with Murray likely missing the remainder of the season.
Murray is the Spurs’ starting point guard for the foreseeable future but has been unable to play this season due to an ACL tear. As he is on his rookie deal, his contract is for $1,544,951 this season and $2,321,735 next. The Spurs won’t trade him at the deadline or over the summer, but Murray and White are probably the Spurs’ two best trade assets this summer.
When Murray was injured during the pre-season, the Spurs planned on White being the starter. While the Spurs had to make the shift to Forbes as the starting point guard after White was injured, the move to make White a starter in his second season showed the Spurs’ belief in and value of White. Over the past month, he has been a key contributor for the Spurs on both ends of the court. He is making $1,667,160 this season and will make $1,948,080 next season. When the Spurs try moving Pau Gasol’s contract this summer, a likely scenario given the recent play of Jakob Poeltl, teams will probably ask for one of the Spurs young guards, or one of their first-round draft picks, to be in the deal as well. White appears to be too important to the Spurs’ guard rotation, though, for him to be included in that trade.
Lonnie Walker IV
Walker is an exciting, young player who has not received much playing time for the Spurs this season but will probably receive more in the latter part of this season and be a rotation player next season if Murray and White are the model. He is making $2,357,160 this season and $2,760,480 next. It’s difficult to imagine the Spurs even considering trading Walker until they see him play in the NBA more.
Mills’s value to the Spurs is not just his on-court production, but his leadership as well. The Spurs value having players who know the system and can be leaders in the locker room, so the Spurs probably aren’t considering trading him this season or in the upcoming off-season unless Mills asks to be moved to a situation where he can have a larger role, an unlikely scenario. He is signed with the team through the 2020-21 season and is making $11,571,429 this season and $12,428,571 next season.
The Spurs are unlikely to trade any of their guards at the trade deadline this season. Forbes, White, and Mills are each important rotation players, and moving any of those players would mean a significant increase in playing time for Walker. Murray is an important player for the future of the Spurs and Walker has only played half a quarter of NBA basketball.
The Spurs may consider trading one of their guards this summer. Murray should be back by the start of next season and the Spurs will want to get more playing time for Walker then as well. Forbes is the most likely candidate. The Spurs could offer Forbes, Gasol, and a second-round draft pick to a projected lottery team that is willing to take on money and needs a backup guard,. This deal would allow them to move Gasol without trading Murray, White, or Walker or including a first-round draft pick.
Salary cap info from http://www.basketballinsiders.com/san-antonio-spurs-team-salary/