San Antonio Spurs: Big changes are needed to salvage the season

NBA San Antonio Spurs Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, and Patty Mills (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
NBA San Antonio Spurs Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, and Patty Mills (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

If the San Antonio Spurs are going to salvage their season, big changes need to be made by the NBA Trade Deadline

The San Antonio Spurs used to be the definition of a championship pedigree. Anyone who watched NBA basketball from 1997-2014 knows that the Spurs are an extraordinarily well-coached team that will bring it every night they take the court.

Spurs Basketball was special, it was graceful and rehearsed flawlessly, yet gritty and hard-nosed. Due to the aging and retirement of their stars, the Spurs are searching for their identity for the first time in more than 20 years.

The League has done a lot of evolving in the 20 years; the Spurs have spent succeeding on primarily the same game plan. Although, the Spurs need to start catching up to the league. But why just catch up? The league is getting smaller and shooting more and more 3’s, the Spurs are in a position where they have nothing to lose. Why take a chance and be the trendsetters? How would they do this?

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The league is slowly getting smaller, if the Spurs want to jump in front of the league’s natural evolution they need to get much smaller. The only other team that is experimenting with this strategy is the New Orleans Pelicans. In a game on Dec. 1, the Pelicans started Lonzo Ball, J.J. Reddick, Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, and Jahlil Okafor, with Holiday listed as the Small Forward. With this lineup, they gave up a similar amount of points to the Thunder that the did last time they played them and countered with a much improved 3-point percentage.

The Spurs could adopt this playstyle, to be honest, with their current lineup; Bryn Forbes, Derrick White, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, and Jakob Poeltl is already quite small, but it is severely lacking in shooting.

I would love to see them get some more young players to complement their current youth. The best way to jump the gun on this movement would be to get themselves a young sharpshooter by trading DeRozan and move Derrick White to the small forward.

Derrick White is a more than capable defender and I would not expect his presence defensively to be a downgrade from DeRozan. Derrick White is taking 7.4 shots per game this season, which is down from 8.1 last year on a playoff team. I would like to see White be a bigger part of the offense and get his shots up to 11 or more per game. Moving DeRozan is the answer to this; the team will likely get worse in the short term, but long term I think this is the best choice.

The big question is, who could the Spurs move DeRozan for? One potential target, who may or may not even be available for a trade, is Luke Kennard. He’s valued highly by the Detroit Pistons, but as the team searches for answers they could emerge as sellers at the NBA Trade Deadline. Or could be interested in adding another all-star to their strong frontline.

Detroit’s salary cap issues would make this move difficult, but if they could find a way to couple DeRozan and Blake Griffin together, the Pistons could be interested in such a move.

Another possibility is trying to swap DeRozan to the Denver Nuggets for Gary Harris who would fit the team’s new-look offense much better. It’s not clear how the Nuggets view DeRozan, but if they’re looking for a go-to offensive player come playoff time, he could be the cheap answer.

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The Spurs have plenty of options here, but choosing to be stagnant and put together a 32-38 win team for the rest of DeRozan’s tenure is the worst of these options. The front office can get creative with trades and there will be a lot of demand for players like DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rudy Gay. It’s time for the San Antonio Spurs to be fun to watch again, who’s with me?!