Spurs makes a good deal out of Hill


Kawhi Leonard is the main trade piece that made the Spurs send Hill to his hometown Indianapolis.

In a deal that constitutes the boldest draft-day move of their post-championship era, the San Antonio Spurs traded George Hill  a key rotation who coach Gregg Popovich once lauded as “my favorite player” to the Indiana Pacers for a package highlighted by Kawhi Leonard, a high-energy small forward the Pacers selected with the 15th overall pick.

Though the Spurs are intrigued by Leonard, who at 6-foot-7 gives the Spurs added size at a position where they were small, Buford made clear the night was bittersweet.

“This might have been one of the most difficult nights in Spurs history, as long as we’ve been here,” Buford said. “To lose a player like George Hill, who has meant so much to our team, to our culture, to our locker room … it’s one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make.”

The Spurs entered the offseason with the stated goal of regaining a defensive edge that had eluded them the previous few seasons. By trading for Leonard and using their own first-round pick, 29th overall, on defensive-minded Texas point guard Cory Joseph, draft night further underscored that intention.

Leonard averaged 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds as a sophomore at San Diego State last season, but his value comes in his ability to guard multiple positions.

He was the cornerstone of an Aztecs team last season that rose to a top-5 national ranking.

“I don’t know if he’s a throwback to Bruce (Bowen),” Buford said, referring to a player widely viewed as the best defensive wing in club history. “But he led a team at SDSU that had little to no success and took them to one of the top rankings in the country.”

Joseph on the other hand, is a freshman who played alongside Buford’s adopted son, Alexis Wangmene at UT, Buford said: “We saw him a lot. And we think he has terrific defensive qualities, terrific Spurs qualities.”

Davis Bertans is a great value at #42 but he still needs to stay overseas to polish his game.

Hill’s departure leaves an immediate need for a backup point guard,  a role that can be assumed by Joseph, he has similar skill set of Hill and he could only improve a lot under Popovich’s guidance and playing under a good system with the Spurs.

“I don’t think it was any secret we thought we would impact our team more through trades than through the draft,” Buford said. “In the end, it was a combination.”

Those close to Hill say he is leaving town neither willingly nor happily.

“The thing we made George aware of, he’s always a Spur,” Buford said.

If there’s any consolation for Hill, it’s that he’s headed back home to Indianapolis, where he thrived as a prep star at Broad Ripple High before playing his college ball at IUPUI.

As part of Thursday’s deal, the Spurs also get rights to Indiana’s second-round pick, 18-year-old Latvian sharpshooter Davis Bertans (42nd overall), as well as 2005 second-round pick Erazem Lorbek, a 6-10 center currently playing in Spain.

Bertans, a 6-10 forward is considered one of the best pure shooters in the draft, he has been playing with the Slovenian team Union Olympia and will probably remain overseas for the time being.

With their final pick, 59th overall, the Spurs took 22-year-old Hungarian Adam Hanga, a 6-6 shooting guard.

Trading Hill was tough and painful, but on the surface, it looks like the Spurs made a good deal out of it.

What do you guys think? Are you satisfied with the Spurs’ draft day moves? Share your thoughts.

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16 thoughts on “Spurs makes a good deal out of Hill

  1. I like the idea of getting better defensively, but George Hill is a great defender. Plus he already knows the system. I guess replacing him with for Cory Joseph and picking up a big man in Leonard makes sense from the business side but I’ll be sad to see him go. Anyone else want to see if we can get a discount on a large quantity of George Hill Pacers’ jerseys?

    P.S. Dejuan needs a new best friend.

    • Marcus, I thinks most (if not all) Spurs fans are sad with Hill going but the NBA is a business so things like this has to happen. Let’s hope for the best for the Spurs and wish Georgie luck in Indiana.

      You know what makes the deal better for the Spurs besides the players? They were able to deal Hill for good prospects while he is on his last year of his contract.

      And of course we need a new best friend! Suggestions anyone? :D

      Thanks for the comments and reads.

  2. I like the Spurs moves. It pains me to see George Hill go, I think getting Leornard and Bertans makes sense. Although, I’m not too sure about Cory Joseph.

    I agree DeJuan needs a new best friend! Go Spurs!

  3. 3 promising prospects for one proven rotation player in the NBA, I think the Spurs hit the strike on this one! Great Job! But Hill will definitely be missed.

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  5. Yes, it could’ve been better. However, this is part of the business that most of us hate letting go of a favorite inorder to
    get better overall for the present and future. Think, the pieces
    are starting to come together right now. It’s like a puzzle so
    dont lose sleep, because I know and you know that the FO is
    problaly working on another deal for at least one Impact BIG
    (plus 7 ft) and a BIG PF, afterall noboby knows how this FO
    works it just works. My take is still stop hoarding players in Europe and bring them in for OJT before the TD/MG/TP era is
    over.

    • It was a good move by the Spurs. As much as I hate to see George Hill go, I think Leonard will be a good addition and Bertans will be stashed overseas. Erazem Lorbek is also a part of the deal but will likely stay in Barcelona

      But even if the Spurs get him somehow, I agree with you. They need to look for another big man, maybe through another trade or by signing a free agent.

  6. George was a wonderful player and person. If you review his pre-draft workout stats, he was also one of the best athletes to ever put on a spurs uniform given his times in the 34/4 court sprints(3.07, among the best in NBA history), agility testing(12.2, a very fine time), max vertical leap of 37.5″, and a body fat of 3.0. Pair that with a freakish wingspan for his height of 6’9″ , and we may have given up a player with one of the highest ceilings to greatness in Spurs history. That being said, I believe that the cumulative ceiling for the three players contribution to our team who we received in return will very likely be greater than what we would have gotten from George alone. The contributions received from those players come at positions of greater need on our team than the positions George plays as well, largely due to the addition of Gary Neal and the drafting of Cory Joseph. While a very good athlete, Leonard is not quite the athlete that George was per his pre-draft workout stats, but he supposedly has that very, very rare motor that Dennis Rodman possessed; a real workman like attitude. Pair that with “very good” athleticism, good passing and playmaking ability and you may have something there. He, like George, possesses some very nice physical attributes that make him special such as his enormous wingspan of 7’3″ paired with a good height for a wing of 6’7″. Unfortunately, this is somewhat mitigated by his fairly average max vertical leap of 32″. He does test very nicely in agility and quickness( 11.45 lane agility, and 3.15 3/4 court sprint). The 18 year old Bertans looks pretty interesting in the videos I have been able to find. Appears to be a very smooth and fairly agile athlete for 6’10” who is lauded as possibly the best shooter in the draft. Interestingly, at 18 years old, there remains that possibility that he may grow a little more still. He definitely looked like a guy who, with some work, could be a real contributor to our team. The third player we received in the trade is a fairly accomplished 27 year old, 6’11” center who played collegiate basketball in the US for one year and has since played professionally in Europe. He has many accolades and has been on several very successful teams to which he has been a major contributor. Apparetly he is a very skilled scorer from any part of the court but is a below average athlete with particularly poor foot speed and is therefore felt to be a defensive liability against NBA caliber athletes. His option for next year was picked-up for next year by his European team, so it is inlikey he will be comming across the pond.

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