Eight consecutive loses, second worst record in the Western Conference.
The worst start under Popovich proved that the San Antonio Spurs are in a pinch for the first time in years. The front office has a tough decision to make: Should they keep their star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan or trade him and develop the young core they currently have?
Either way, they have to figure it out considering their record (6-11).
DeRozan’s numbers are down across the board compared to last year (21.1 points, 6 rebounds, 6.2 assists) he’s averaging 20.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists this season. Despite him being accompanied by All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, the Spurs are nowhere near a team contending for the title.
Defense is the main issue
For a franchise that built around defensive strategies, DeRozan has proved to come short when it comes to defense. The Spurs have been getting blown out when he’s on the floor. Through their 17 games so far, DeRozan averages an on-court defensive rating of 116.2 which is the second-worst mark of any player on the roster who plays big minutes, and they’ve yielded 114.5 points per game, that serves as reminder for last season run which resulted in a 7th seed spot and a first-round knockout.
On the other hand, they have a very strong bench that proves to be more dependable that includes Derrick White, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Rudy Gay and Jakob Poetl. They run a quicker-paced offense by more than seven possessions than the starters, and they move the ball better, with a 67% assist rate. Poeltl and Gay are also much stronger defensive options than Aldridge and DeRozan.
Is trading DeRozan the solution?
Looking at the situation, DeRozan is on the final year of his contract and will be a free agent next summer.
We’re looking at two options here:
- Trusting the roster to figure it out on their own
- Or look to make a trade to bolster the squad
Although the norm for most of the teams is to look for a good deal, that’s not what the Spurs have done since Popovich took charge. Over the last 22 years, the Spurs made only six trades during the season. Most of them were minor and the last one was about six years ago.
But the current path for the team is a major concern, having their worst losing streak in the Popovich era. Good news is the season is still in early stages with 66 games remaining, and theSspurs are only 3 games behind the 8th seed Phoenix Suns.
The Orlando Magic and Miami Heat could both be interested in a potential deal for DeRozan. The Magic are looking for a consistent scorer, while Miami are in search for a known name to put in company with their All-Star Jimmy Butler.
Both options could be the next smart move for the Spurs and DeRozan but only time will tell if Popovich will stick to his way of action or he will pull the trigger to do what’s necessary.