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San Antonio Spurs involved in Kyrie Irving-Russell Westbrook trade talks as a third team

Andrew Buller-Russ

If you’re a San Antonio Spurs fan clicking on this article hoping to see your team mentioned as a potential destination for either Kyrie Irving, that’s not what you’ll find here. On the other hand, the Spurs could still be involved in these same trade discussions, just not as the team looking to acquire Irving. Instead, they could land another highly-accomplished point guard. That being Russell Westbrook

According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, one way the Irving for Westbrook trade could get completed is by the Spurs being willing to take on Westbrook’s $47 million salary for the 2022 season.

San Antonio Spurs’ salary cap space could be the missing piece

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

No. The San Antonio Spurs may not have absolute interest in adding Russell Westbrook for his basketball abilities at this stage in the 33-year-old point guard’s career. Instead, they could be incentivized to take on his remaining salary in exchange for draft compensation.

With the Spurs unlikely to suddenly become playoff contenders after trading their sole All-Star, chances are, the organization would prioritize future assets over anything immediate anyway. This could make the Spurs the perfect trade partner in this blockbuster.

As is, it appears the Nets aren’t too keen on taking on additional salary with Westbrook set to make just over $10 million more than Kyrie Irving this season. This has led to other negotiations, with the Nets hoping the Lakers take on the remaining contract of Joe Harris, which amounts to $38.5 million over the next two seasons.

For the Spurs to be able to take back Westbrook’s salary, they’d have to clear Doug McDermott’s $13.7 million as well as Josh Richardson’s $12.1 million in 2022 from their books. Both players could be seen as bench pieces on a contender, but they currently hold very little value to the Spurs.

If the Spurs do take on Westbrook, there’s likely to be draft compensation headed their way as well, for taking on such a large, nearly untradeable contract. If they can pull it off while also shedding McDermott’s contract, which runs through the 2023-24 season, it would be a win. But not enough to bring this team back to the postseason. Instead, it would help jumpstart the full rebuilding effort currently underway in San Antonio.

If Westbrook ultimately gets dealt to the Spurs, the two could work out a buyout that allows the point guard to hit unrestricted free agency. This would appear to be the best solution for everyone.

With so many moving parts, this could be why trade discussions have slowed down, but the Spurs getting involved is a new development, and it could just be the missing piece to solving the puzzle.

Related: Top 2023 NBA free agents: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving could lead the charge