With the flexibility built up since trading DeMar DeRozan in the offseason, San Antonio can go a number of ways. If a disgruntled star forces his way out of his current squad, Spurs have the aces to make a big trade and catapult their group into playoff contention. They also own the pieces to advance in the draft if they see fit, or simply choose four recruits to build into their system.
This fuels the idea that they have given themselves the flexibility to cultivate their next playoff contender. Whether through internal growth via writing and development, or accelerating the process, San Antonio has finally arrived in the modern NBA.
All the while, they have maintained their philosophy of doing well with their players. White joins a talented and growing Boston Celtics team with two superstars he’s quite friendly with thanks to their 2019 experience with Team USA under, you guessed it, Coach Pop.
Although Young was not traded to a title contender, he is now in a position where he can play an important role with the Raptors and build his stock before free agency. Even Forbes, who had only been back with Spurs for half a season, was moved to a better situation playing under reigning MVP in Nikola Jokic.
This trade deadline is proof that the San Antonio Spurs can stick to their core beliefs as a franchise without falling behind. Moving White opens up new opportunities for young players like Vassell, Johnson and rookie Joshua Primo to acclimate to NBA basketball while gaining confidence and expanding their skills. The same goes for Forbes, who has taken on an important sniper role off the bench this year.
Spurs cap expert Paul Garcia — a writer for Project Spurs and a fantastic Twitter following — estimates San Antonio can open up $33.4 million in cap space this offseason.
It might not be the most standout class of free agent, but there are a handful of transformative players Spurs can pursue with that money.
Otherwise, they can continue to build on the margins, add young talent and grow from within. Barring an unprecedented run after the NBA All-Star break, Spurs will have their best lottery pick since Tim Duncan this offseason; a milestone they had already achieved by taking Vassell 11th in 2020.
So what did Spurs’ deadline end ultimately say about their direction? Well, it didn’t explain exactly how they did it, but they made it clear that they weren’t afraid to shake things up to make it happen. Removing some older pieces, it shows the Spurs organization will prioritize their young talent in a bid to build this next contender from within.
It also signals that San Antonio aims to maintain flexibility by maximizing talent and assets to the best of its ability until the way forward emerges.
Do we know Spurs’ exact game plan for the future? Definitely not – and maybe the front office hasn’t defined that yet either. But they will be ready to answer the call when it comes.