As the Lakers have seen suitors come and go for Russell Westbrook, one team that’s been in the background for most of it has been the San Antonio Spurs. But at one point in the summer, the Spurs were seen as a potential third team in a trade for Kyrie Irving.
Through it all, San Antonio has loomed, a team with ample cap room and contracts to make a trade work. The biggest issue, though, is that few, if any, of the Spurs players would be particularly appealing to the Lakers in a trade.
But still, the Spurs lurk and with options dwindling, remain one of the favorite teams still in the running. In a recent article by Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune, the Spurs are one of the teams still willing to take on Westbrook’s contract (emphasis is mine).
“Complicating matters, though, is that the Jazz might not be the only team willing to take on Westbrook’s contract in order to get those picks. Indiana and San Antonio have also expressed that interest, per multiple media reports. The Pacers could trade Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, while the Spurs could move along Doug McDermott, Josh Richardson, and/or former Ute Jakob Poeltl.”
If you’re not falling out of your chair in excitement for that trio of players, then welcome to the majority. Players like Josh Richardson or Jakob Poeltl are adequate-to-above-average role players, it’s a far cry from what the Lakers are likely looking for when it comes to return for Russ.
Poeltl is a solid center, particularly on the defensive end. Last season, he averaged 13.5 points and 9.3 rebounds on 61.8% shooting from the field, though he still holds an impossibly low free throw percentage of 49.5%.
Richardson is a player the Lakers have expressed interest toward in the past. most notably at the trade deadline last season. Split between Boston and San Antonio last season, Richardson averaged 10.2 points on 41.5% shooting from 3-point range.
Doug McDermott being the third name mentioned is hardly going to move the needle. He played 51 games and shot 42.2% from the 3-point line, but he’s hardly that effective defensively and is due $27 million over the next two seasons.
Poeltl and Richardson being expiring contracts mean little to the Lakers considering Russ is also an expiring unless they feel they can flip them at the deadline for better players. But considering the assets they may have to part with to ship out Russ, they may not have the assets available to swap those players out at the deadline.
All of those are reasons why the Spurs have remained in the background of these conversations. Their main appeal is as a team that can absorb most of Russ’ contract without needing to send out much in the way of contracts. In a straight one-for-one deal, though, it seems hardly likely what they have to offer would appeal to the Lakers.