The San Antonio Spurs have been reportedly "unusually aggressive" in the trade market this season, and adding a backup for Kawhi Leonard remains a pressing need for the 40-15 Spurs, who sit 3.5 games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Leonard has missed 38 games in the past two seasons, and the Spurs' rotation is pushed to it's limits when Leonard misses extended time -- Danny Green and Marco Belinelli can cover in a pinch, but there are plenty of defensive matchups they still aren't physically able to tackle..
According to ESPN's J.A. Adande, the Spurs are also willing to offer a first-round pick in a trade. The pick doesn't have a high expected value, since the return on investment is low, but the NBA has increasingly coveted draft picks because you can hit the financial jackpot if you land a rotation player.
The Spurs don't have a massive expiring deal or juicy first-round picks to offer, the ones in the top half at least, but 10 players on the roster earn fewer than $5 million this season, pliable contracts that could be flipped in a package deal for a player of Thaddeus Young's skill level. (Young, for the record, is a very unlikely target.)
Leonard, for example, will make fewer than $8 million over three seasons before he hits restricted free agency -- a tradeoff that allowed the Spurs to "overpay" Tiago Splitter and keep one of the better big man defenders in the league while also avoiding a ridiculous luxury tax payment.
The Spurs' average first-round draft pick is 26.7 in the Tim Duncan era, and the Spurs would have the 27th pick in the draft if the season ended today. That pick has some value, even though the . Last year's 25th pick, Reggie Bullock, earns $1.15 million this season and is under team control for at least four seasons, with the most expensive season leveling off at $2.2 million. That's a fair price to pay.
San Antonio also has a second-round pick, likely in the 55-60 range, and potentially the Los Angeles Clippers' top-55 protected second-round pick -- the Spurs have to finish outside of the top five in the league to earn the pick.
The Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Spencer Hawes for a pair of second-rounders, Earl Clark and Henry Sims today. Hawes has posted an above-average PER in three consecutive seasons. The Spurs, with picks in their arsenal and manageable contracts, could pull off a similar deal for a player, if they so choose.