Now that the NBA Draft lottery has come and gone, we know that Tottenham will enter the 2022 draft with picks holding 9, 20, 25 and 38. While having a Top 4 pick would have been huge, Tottenham still have a plethora of options. to work with her.
The current state of the Spurs squad could affect how they approach the draft. In short, Tottenham have 8 fully guaranteed contracts for next season. Zach Collins has half of his contract guaranteed, and it seems very likely that Spurs will secure the other half to see how he performs after a full training stint. Spurs also have unsecured contracts with Keita Bates-Diop, Trey Jones and Jock Landal. Of those three, Trey Jones appears to be the most likely to secure his contract. Then there’s the looming contract decision for Lonnie Walker IV and the fact that Spurs could open up plenty of room for signing free agents. The point is, Spurs already have a pretty crowded roster, so it seems unlikely they’ll make four selections, including three first rounds, in the 2022 draft.
Draft and stash
Draft and Cached used to be an initial draft of Spurs’ strategy, but as they moved away from competing for the championship, that strategy was mostly abandoned. Instead, Tottenham preferred to use the NBA G League as a way to develop juniors. The only problem with using the G League instead of the draft and stashed is that first-round teams playing in the G League are still signed guaranteed contracts and are part of the main roster, which won’t help Spurs if they try to keep their candidate lists open to potential free agents. So while I don’t consider this a primary option for Spurs, it’s still something worth considering if some of these other options don’t come to fruition.
Trading against a future bill
Spurs could balance out their draft picks by trading one of their 2022 draft picks for future compensation. It’s hard to know for sure which team will be interested in trading in the first round of 2022. Teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Philadelphia 76ers don’t have any draft picks this season, but they all owe future first-round picks to other teams, making it difficult for the Spurs to get a draft pick in the near term. However, any team can be willing to give up the future first if there is a player still on the board who is 20 or 25 years old. It would definitely be something Spurs would consider on draft night, especially if the draft was rocking in a way that they don’t like the options left in their twenties.
Just last year, the New York Knicks owned the 19th and 21st picks in the draft and decided to trade the 19th pick with the Charlotte Hornets for a 2023 lottery-protected first round. The Houston Rockets also sent two future first-round protected groups to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 16th selection.
On the surface, I don’t see much opportunity for a major trade. The Houston Rockets have hinted that they may be willing to trade from third, but it would likely be too costly for the Spurs to seriously consider. I also wouldn’t give up on a potential lottery pick in the 2023 draft, which is expected to be a much better draft. Sacramento Kings are always a wildcard, but they will likely look for an established star rather than offset the draft. The Portland Trail Blazers weren’t blatantly rushing just to move down the draft. They still cling to hopes of keeping Damien Lillard happy and would choose him or trade him for an established star. Other than that, the teams ahead of Spurs in the draft are also actively working on rebuilding and likely won’t be looking to lose.
The most likely scenario involves combining some of Spurs’ picks later in order to move up the draft. In 2020, the New York Knicks captured the 23rd pick from the Utah Jazz by trading their 27th and 38th picks. They then traded the 23rd pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves for picks 25 and 33. Last year, the Knicks traded 21st with the Los Angeles Clippers for 25th and a second round future. These are the kinds of deals Spurs might be looking for if they want to try and go from the 25th choice.
On its own, that doesn’t really solve the Tottenham roster problem, as they will still have three first-round picks in 2022. What it might do is make another deal more valuable to the other teams. For the sake of this article, let’s assume the Spurs are able to trade their 25th and 38th picks with the Denver Nuggets in their 21st pick. It makes sense for Denver to think that this is their only pick this year, and they have an expensive menu. Getting a second choice and filling several places on the list via the draft can be an inexpensive way to complete their list.
Then, Spurs can shop their 20th and 21st picks for teen teams to see if anyone is ready to make a comeback. The most obvious choice among those teams is the Cleveland Cavaliers in 14th. For one, the 14th choice for choices 20 and 21 is the fair value. Additionally, the Cavs may have to submit their 2023 first-round pick to the Indiana Pacers if they are out of the lottery. That could leave them with no pick, so maybe they’ll be interested in several first-round picks this year or they might look to trade 20 or 21 in 2022 for a first-round pick in 2023.
Again, this is just one example of how Spurs have navigated the lower end of the first round in order to move up the draft and help keep the roster flexible during free agency.
Draft and stockpiling, trading against future draft offset, and draft trading are just some of the options that Spurs will consider as the draft approaches. There are certainly other options not yet discussed, such as trading players like Doug McDermott or Josh Richardson as well as choosing(s) to go to the draft. The only problem with that in terms of roster building is that trading these players will likely require Spurs to return players in return, which doesn’t help with freeing up rosters of players heading to a free agency.
Please leave a comment on how you would like to see Tottenham navigate the 2022 draft.