It may be a little early for any team to be the subject of trade rumors with less than a week until the NBA season starts, but that’s where the San Antonio Spurs have found themselves. San Antonio kicks off the season against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena next Tuesday night, yet the headline for the team has more to do with where one of its superstars might finish off the regular season.
ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan and the San Antonio Express-News reported rumors about Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge and his future with the silver and black. Both said he may not finish the season in San Antonio, as the “experiment hasn’t worked out quite the way they hoped,” per MacMullan. This puts the Spurs in a difficult situation if they are looking to trade, as Aldridge is entering the second year of a 4-year, $80 million contract. The difficulty in trading Aldridge wouldn’t be in finding one or more contracts in a deal, but in San Antonio finding an equal amount of talent to replace what Aldridge brings to the team.
While there may be rumors on why Aldridge or the Spurs are souring on his role with the team, it’ll all be speculation until the facts are revealed.
Editors Note: Project Spurs is NOT reporting active trade discussions between the teams written about for this discussion. These are just trade ideas in the event the San Antonio Spurs Spurs did begin taking phone calls on LaMarcus Aldridge.
So, what IF the Spurs did start taking phone calls from opposing teams with packages for Aldridge? Here are some trade ideas of what the Spurs could look for in return in an Aldridge trade and why it would benefit the teams involved.
Trade Idea #1: Aldridge & Kyle Anderson for Carmelo Anthony
This might not be the most attractive trade for Spurs fans, as Anthony hasn’t been known to be a defensive presence, nor someone who can move the ball consistently, but he might be what the Spurs are lacking in the “new age” of smaller basketball. Anthony taking Aldridge’s spot as the starting power forward would offer a difficult mismatch for the opposing team as he can handle the offense in the triple threat position at the top of the key where he can shoot, pass, or drive. It would also offer San Antonio more options with bench players such as Davis Bertans who can play the small forward or power forward positions and not disrupt rhythm, as Kawhi Leonard and Anthony are naturally small forwards by position. The New York Knicks would benefit in taking Aldridge and inserting him in the power forward position next to Joakim Noah. Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek discussed the idea of Kristaps Porzingis seeing time at the small forward position for the Knicks and this would give them a taller shooting team who would have the edge on the defensive side. With the possibility of Derrick Rose missing games due to legal matters, Brandon Jennings alongside Courtney Lee, Porzingis, Aldridge and Noah would be a formidable starting five that can run the Triangle Offense through various options. Anderson would also be a serviceable player who can control the offense from either forward position.
It is important to not that Anthony does have a no-trade clause in his contract, so he would have to approve any such trade move where he’s involved.
Trade Idea #2: Aldridge & Jonathan Simmons for Marc Gasol
This trade would push Pau Gasol into the power forward position while bringing in a former defensive player of the year and his brother, Marc Gasol. The Spurs would likely have to send in a filler in Simmons or Anderson to entice an offer for a defensive anchor and more overall balanced player. The Memphis Grizzlies would likely either bring Zach Randolph off the bench or start him at the center position if Aldridge were to be sent to Memphis, but their offense would improve with a more versatile scoring power forward who can pick and roll or pop with a point guard like Mike Conley. San Antonio would obviously improve defensively, but would see a more traditional lineup for the starting unit and a different look after either of the big men sit and the Spurs adjust to their opponent. This would be a long shot for San Antonio to pull off with the Grizzlies balking at the deal with the loss of a defensive presence unless Aldridge can show he’s comfortable protecting the paint in stretches this season. Simmons would be needed as a defensive presence in the perimeter, but also may be a cheaper alternative next season after Vince Carter and Tony Allen become free agents.
Trade Idea #3 Aldridge & Patty Mills for DeMarcus Cousins & Kosta Koufos
The inclusion of Mills would be needed for salary cap purposes and also to sweeten the deal, as Cousins is one of the most underrated and versatile big men, as he saw time as the Sacramento Kings’ starting center last season. While some may be weary of trading for Cousins and his well publicized outspoken attitude, his talent and willingness to play a vital role on a team that’s looking to contend may overshadow his past problems. His feud with former coach George Karl is well known, but the Spurs are not a team that airs its laundry publicly and that was the beginning of the end between the two. Cousins would add an aggressive paint scorer, especially against the smaller teams who can’t defend him. San Antonio’s willingness to move the ball might keep his touches high and also motivate him to play defense around the rim in a faster paced game. His contract is extremely friendly in today’s NBA financially, so it’s likely the Spurs would have to take in Kosta Koufos’ larger contract to make it work and make it attractive for the Kings to take. Mills would add a quick defensive player that can stretch the defense with his 3-point shooting and also maybe help them cope with the loss of Rajon Rondo this offseason. Mills is also a free agent after this season and may be looking for a pay raise.
These trade ideas may not be the most ideal for the Spurs, but they’re just based on the reported speculation if they were looking to trade and also trying to get the maximum amount of talent in return in a realistic scenario. The Express News’ Spurs sources have declined any trade talks with other teams involving Aldridge thus far. Whether or not the Spurs are looking to trade him, the best option for them is to keep him as the team has gone through one full season trying to fit him into their system and already finishing off training camp and preseason building chemistry. There may be offers and possibilities of him being moved, but it’d be in the best interest of the team to see how this team plays out after building its chemistry.