Two days before the deadline to do so, the Spurs have picked up their contract options on both 2011 draftees:
October 28, 2013
SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have exercised their fourth-year options on forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Cory Joseph. Both players are now signed through the 2014-15 season.
In two seasons with the Spurs, Leonard has appeared in 122 games, averaging 9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.49 steals in 32.8 minutes. In 35 career playoff games, the California native has averaged 11.6 points, 7.8 rebounds and 1.54 steals in 33.0 minutes. Leonard joined the Spurs in a 2011 draft night deal that saw the Silver and Black send George Hill to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Leonard's rights, along with the rights to Davis Bertans and Erazem Lorbek.
Now entering his third season in San Antonio, Joseph has averaged 3.2 points, 1.5 assists and 1.4 rebounds in 11.5 minutes in a total of 57 games during his first two NBA campaigns. The University of Texas product was drafted by San Antonio with the 29th overall pick in the first round of the 2011 NBA Draft.
It was obvious the Spurs were going to exercise their option to Kawhi Leonard, as his production has vastly outweighed his salary. Leonard will likely receive an extension at this time next season, as the Spurs will try to lock up their first piece of the puzzle for the post-Duncan future. Leonard should be cheap for the next two years, which will allow the Spurs the cap-room flexibility necessary to bridge the transition to a new chapter in the franchise's history.
Cory Joseph's situation was not so cut and dry. Joseph is still very young at just 22 and has shown signs of potential. But he hasn't produced at the NBA level consistently and spent most of his time in Austin with the Spurs' D-League affiliate, the Toros. That his option was picked up signals that the Spurs believe Joseph will continue to grow as a player. How Joseph handles the added responsibility and playing time many believe he will receive this upcoming season will go a long way into securing a spot next to Leonard in the Spurs' future plans.
The Spurs now have nine players under guaranteed contracts for next season.