Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 6/22/12

On Thursday, Hoopsworld.com reported that the Houston Rockets are looking to trade Samuel Dalembert and the number 16 pick in the NBA Draft. The Rockets’ intentions are to either get a star out of such a deal or move into the top-10 position of the draft. Dalmbert is trade bait for the Rockets because they don’t plan on keeping him as apart of their future due to issues he had with head coach Kevin McHale this past season.

The San Antonio Spurs need an upgrade defensively in their frontcourt, which brings up the questions; should they go after Dalembert? Do they even have enough trade chips to make such a deal happen? Let’s first breakdown Dalembert to see if he’d fit in with the Spurs.


  • Strengths: Dalembert can finish in the restricted area 63% of the time according to Stats Cube. He can help with extra possessions as he grabbed 2.4 offensive rebounds this season and he helps a teams offense score 103.6 points per 100 possessions. He’s also an 80% free throw shooter should he get fouled. Dalmbert did shoot 51% on the season, though that was a reflection of his points in the paint.
  • Weaknesses: He doesn’t have a solid mid-range jumper as he shot 36% (43/119) outside of the paint and even in the paint he shot 43% (33/77). He only got to the free throw line 1.7 times per game and committed 1.3 turnovers per game. He also wasn’t very efficient in scoring as it took him 6.1 field goal attempts to score 7.5 points per game.

Offensively, he wouldn’t fit in too well with the Spurs. He’d be great at grabbing a few extra missed shots and maybe finishing with some dunks in the paint, but since he has trouble hitting the mid-range jumper, which is a shot efficient Spurs big men need, he would be one less weapon on offense. Like Tiago Splitter and DeJuan Blair, if he set a screen for the Spurs’ guards, his only option would be to head toward the paint.


  • Strengths: Dalembert averaged 1.7 blocks and grabbed 7 rebounds per game this season, 4.6 of those defensive. He’s also got length and height as he stands at 6’11 and is relatively quick for a big man.
  • Weakness: Per 100 possessions, with Dalembert defending the rim, the Rockets gave up 101 points per game.

Defensively he’d be just what the Spurs are missing to help Tim Duncan (assuming he re-signs) defend the paint. He’s got the height the Spurs lacked this previous season outside of Duncan, and he’d be able to hold down the paint while Duncan rests, which Splitter and Bonner couldn’t do against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals.

Overall, if the Spurs were to acquire Dalembert, it means they would be willing to give up some offense for some defense. On offense, he wouldn’t be able to be efficient unless he was playing alongside Duncan, Bonner, or Boris Diaw (if they re-sign him), because those three can hit perimeter shots. On defense, he’d be a significant upgrade out on the floor with any of the other Spurs’ frontcourt members.

In my opinion, I think Dalembert would be a great addition for the Spurs, but it’s very unlikely to happen. Dalembert is set to make 6.7 million with the Rockets this season, which is the last year of his contract. The Spurs just don’t have a logical package to trade for him because they won’t be giving up a star (Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, or Duncan) for Dalembert, and they don’t even have a first round draft pick themselves, let alone a top-10 pick.

I found two deals that could get the Spurs Dalembert via ESPN’s Trade Machine, but they definitely wouldn’t be what the Rockets are asking for right now. Here are the two deals.

Deal 1: Tiago Splitter and Matt Bonner for Dalembert – Financially it worked, but the Spurs would be giving up Splitter, who is a big part of their bench offensively, especially in their second unit. Bonner being included wouldn’t be a huge issue because he has had inconsistent playoff performances and if they bring in Slovenian Erazem Lorbek, then he has the offensive skill set of Bonner, plus more. The Rockets might say yes because Splitter and Luis Scola are almost best friends, and on offense Scola can play the role of Duncan in hitting the 17-foot jumper, while Splitter continues to play in the pick-and-roll. The Rockets could either keep Bonner or continue to find a way to shop him.

Deal 2: Matt Bonner, Gary Neal, Cory Joseph, and DeJuan Blair for Dalembert – This is a maybe for the Spurs, if they’re willing to part with Neal and Joseph. Neal is very valuable to their rotation, and they must see something in Joseph to have drafted him in the first round last year. The Rockets might say yes if Goran Dragic signs elsewhere and they need a backup point guard for Kyle Lowry. From the Spurs’ side, this is pretty much another two-for-one deal as it seems like Blair and Bonner are both tradable this year anyway, after losing minutes and rotation places in the playoffs.

In closing, Bill Ingram, who wrote the piece for Hoops World said that sources think the Rockets already have a deal ready with another NBA team to trade Dalembert and the #16 pick. Though Dalembert could be a good addition to the Spurs, I’d say it’s 95% unlikely to happen because the Spurs just don’t have the trade pieces the Rockets are asking for right now. Should Houston change its mind on what it’s considering for Dalembert, then maybe there could be a chance of such a deal happening, that’s where the 5% lies. 

What do you say Spurs fans, should the Spurs try to make a move for Dalembert? Can you think of some better logical trades that would entice the Rockets? Do you think the Rockets would be willing to negotiate a different deal outside of what they’re asking for Dalembert?

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