According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein, the San Antonio Spurs are attempting to trade for Clippers guard Avery Bradley. Stein also reported that the Clippers are asking for a first-round pick, which is consistent with prior reports.
Bradley has started two games for the Clippers at shooting guard after being acquired in last week’s trade with the Detroit Pistons. He is in the final year of his contract, and could look for a big payday this summer—something the Clippers will be hesitant to give him, given the presence of guards Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic, Lou Williams, and Austin Rivers on the roster.
It is unclear what the Spurs are offering for Bradley, or if they are willing to give the Clippers a first-round pick. As far as salary matching goes, the only like-for-like contracts that the Spurs possess belong to Patty Mills, Rudy Gay, and Danny Green.
Danny Green has been the Spurs’ starting shooting guard forever, and it seems unlikely that San Antonio views Bradley as a significant enough upgrade to warrant including a draft pick. Green is a solid defender and 36% three-point shooter who can play both wing positions, so he definitely has utility for the Clippers, either as a starting shooting guard or backup small forward in relief of Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris. Green makes $10 million this season and has a player option for the same amount next season, complicating the situation. Swapping his salary for Bradley would put the Clippers into the luxury tax, which they are desperately trying to avoid. With Willie Reed and Brice Johnson gone to Boston, the Clippers don’t have any expendable, cheap end-of-bench players to include as salary filler.
Rudy Gay has had a decent year with the Spurs playing on the mid-level exception, but he’ll be out for at least the rest of the month with a right heel injury. He makes $8.4 million this season and has a player option for $8.8 million next season. That $8.4 million number is actually lower than Avery Bradley’s $8.8 million salary this season, which gives the Clippers a little extra wiggle room under the luxury tax to potentially pull up C.J. Williams or Tyrone Wallace on a rest-of-season deal.
Mills is a solid rotation guard and really good three-point shooter who has torched the Clippers in the past, but his contract would seem to make the Clippers entirely uninterested in acquiring him. Mills makes $10.7 million this season and will make $11.6 million, $12.4 million, and $13.3 million over each of the next three seasons—significantly impacting the Clippers’ flexibility for a backup guard.
There’s no real way for the Spurs to combine smaller contracts to make a deal for Bradley, making the pathways towards a deal limited. San Antonio owns all of their own future first-round picks.