Thanks to a three-game winning streak, the once-struggling San Antonio Spurs are now more competitive in the tightly-contested Western Conference, currently sitting at 10th place with a 14-14 record. Still, the Spurs haven’t started as strongly as they normally have as a perennial Western Conference contender, and as Forbes hinted, they might be at a point where they could consider a mid-season trade. But could they go as far as trading one of their proven, yet aging big men for two young and productive guards in order to shake things up, as a newly published list of trade ideas suggests?
As explained by Bleacher Report’s Dan Favale, the proposed deal would have the Spurs trading veteran big man Pau Gasol and third-string forward Quincy Pondexter to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Allen Crabbe and Spencer Dinwiddie. He wrote that the Nets are at a point where they “can’t pay everyone” and might have to prioritize new contracts for shooting guard Caris LeVert, point guard D’Angelo Russell, and small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in the 2019 offseason.
According to Favale, the need to retain or extend some of their top players could force Brooklyn to trade Dinwiddie and Crabbe for extra salary cap space, especially since Crabbe had been “overvalued” during the 2016 free agency period, one year before the Portland Trail Blazers traded him to the Nets.
“Subbing out Allen Crabbe’s $18.5 million salary next year with Pau Gasol’s $6.7 million guarantee—that number could go down in a potential buyout—gives them a cakewalk to more than $50 million in spending power if they don’t overpay Russell,” wrote Favale.
Talking about how the San Antonio Spurs could benefit if they trade Pau Gasol for the two Nets backcourt men, Favale predicted that the deal could represent a “nice middle ground” for a team that’s torn between rebuilding for the future and gunning for their usual playoff spot.
“Paying Crabbe next season isn’t a huge deal when the Spurs won’t have cap space until 2020 or 2021 anyway, and they flat-out need wings. Dinwiddie gives them another shot creator who doesn’t truncate their spacing, and his length affords him honorary wing status against certain defensive matchups.”
As the Spurs lost Dejounte Murray to a torn ACL before the start of the 2018-19 regular season, the team shifted erstwhile backup shooting guard Bryn Forbes to the point guard position, where he has started all 28 games so far. Dinwiddie, who is averaging 16.1 points and 4.9 assists for the Nets, could be a more natural fit as a starting point guard, and as Bleacher Report suggested, could either start alongside Murray when he returns to action in the 2019-20 season or be used as a sixth man by that time.
As for Pau Gasol, the 38-year-old forward/center has missed the past few weeks due to injury and is currently averaging a career-low 6.8 points and 6.1 rebounds in nine games. If hypothetically traded to the Nets, he could serve as a backup and veteran mentor to second-year center Jarrett Allen, who is enjoying a breakout season with 12.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.
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