Free agency will officially start at midnight tonight. Teams can't make signing yet but they can start negotiating, so expect the rumors to start flying soon.
Before diving into it head on, here's a small summary of the Spurs' off-season so far:
The Spurs decided to not waive Austin Daye.
While the Spurs have until midnight to decide, they are not expected to waive forward Austin Daye, a source told Yahoo.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) junio 30, 2014
That was always a strong possibility because Daye will make less than a million next year and showed flashes of untapped potential. The former Piston and Raptor is already 25-years-old but could be an intriguing option as a combo forward, using his length to make up for his lack of strength at the four and filling in when needed at small forward.
Including Daye, at the start of free agency the Spurs will have ten players under contract. It's very likely that the first order of business is to sign Kyle Anderson to his rookie scale contract. So that means the Spurs will have 11 roster spots covered. The maximum is 15 but only 13 players can be active at any time. Here's the depth chart as it will look at the start of free agency:
PG: Parker - Joseph
SG: Green - Ginobili - Belinelli
SF: Leonard - Anderson
PF: Duncan - Daye
C: Splitter - Ayres
The Spurs have four free agents to see to: Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, Aron Baynes and Matt Bonner. Bringing everyone back would mean not adding anyone new to the roster, as every spot would be covered. Assuming the Spurs only bring back Diaw and Mills, the team will have 13 roster spots covered and the mid-level exception at its disposal to add someone else.
If the Spurs use the $5.3 million MLE on only one player, they would have 14 players under contract. Fortunately, Anderson is eligible to be sent down to the D-League, meaning the Spurs could have 13 active players and a rookie playing in Austin they can call up in case of injuries. San Antonio likes to keep a roster spot open, so that seems like a good guess of what the front office might do.
That scenario would involve letting both Baynes and Bonner go. And since the team already has enough wings and guards, the MLE would likely go to a big man. So here's how the depth chart would look:
PG: Parker - Mills - Joseph
SG: Green - Ginobili - Belinelli
SF: Leonard - (Anderson)
PF Duncan - Diaw - Daye
C: Splitter - Ayres - Free agent
With Daye likely getting whatever minutes Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Marco Belinelli and Manu Ginobili don't take at the wing, on top of getting a shot at the stretch four role Bonner would leave empty, the Spurs could have a full roster with pretty much every role covered.
That seems to be the most likely path. But the Spurs have options.
Ayres is on the second and last year of a very affordable contract. If the Spurs want an extra roster spot to either retain Baynes or Bonner or to split the MLE, finding someone to absorb his contract should be relatively easy. If no one bites on his production alone, the Spurs could include cash considerations covering his salary.
Everyone not named Tiago Splitter is also on an expiring contract. The core seems untouchable, as it should after winning the championship. But Cory Joseph and maybe even Marco Belinelli could be expendable if Patty Mills returns.
I don't expect the Spurs to make any trades that break up their core because they really don't need to. But they have easily movable contracts at their disposal.
Free agent rumors
There are no rumors involving the Spurs so far. In fact, even players that the Spurs were reasonably expected to be interested in like veterans Pau Gasol, Vince Carter and Channing Frye don't seem to be on the team's radar. So everything is quiet on the Spurs' front, at least so far. That will probably change in the upcoming days.
The Spurs' summer league roster is starting to take shape. Here are the players that have either confirmed their appearance or are close to it:
Marcus Denmon (SG, 6'3", 24-years-old)
Durand Scott (PG, 6'3", 24-years-old)
Bryce Cotton (SG/PG, 6'0", 21-years-old)
Vander Blue (SG, 6'5", 21-years-old)
Kyle Anderson (SF, 6'8", 20-years-old)
Darington Hobson (SF, 6'6", 26-years-old)
Melvin Ejim (SF, 6'7", 23-years-old)
Viktor Gaddefors (SF, 6'8", 21-years-old)
DaJuan Summers (SF/PF, 6'8", 26-years-old)
DeShaun Thomas (PF, 6,7", 22-years-old)
Nobel Boungo-Colo (PF/SF, 6'8", 26-years-old)
The team clearly lacks some size, so expect some seven footers to be invited (Ryan Richards?). But that's an interesting collection of talent.
You might remember Denmon and Thomas from the 2012 and 2013 draft, respectively. The Spurs selected them in the second round and stashed them in Europe. Durand Scott is also a name some might recognize, as he played in last year's summer league for the Spurs.
Viktor Gaddefors and Nobel Boungo-Colo come from the Italian and French league, respectively. Gaddefors is an athletic Swedish small forward with an iffy jumper. Boungo-Colo is a versatile French combo forward who piles up blocks and steals and can hit the three. He will be with the French national team as it prepares for the World Cup.
Bryce Cotton and Melvin Ejim went undrafted this year. Cotton is a scorer who lacks the size to play off guard but can really shoot. Ejim played power forward in college and is a passable outside shooter who will need to improve his perimeter game to transition to the wing at the next level.
Finally, Darington Hobson, who was selected in the second round of the 2010 draft by the Bucks, is trying to make his return to the league after injuries derailed his career. Hobson played in the D-League, where he averaged 9.2 points, six rebounds and 4.2 assists in the 2012/13 season. Hobson's lack of a three point shot will hurt his chances but he will be extremely motivated after basically missing most of last season.
DaJuan Summers, who will play in the Orlando Summer League for the Nets, will represent the Spurs in Vegas. The combo forward spent last season in the Ukrainian league playing for Budivelnik Kiev, averaging 12.3 points and 4.6 rebounds in his team's short Euroleague stint.
The Spurs don't have roster spots to spare, so it's hard to imagine anyone other than Anderson to be on the roster to start the season. But if someone surprises with their play, they could claim that 15th spot.
As free agency begins, we'll have updates for you on everything Spurs-related.