Spurs now have three guards out with injury — Dejounte Murray, Lonnie Walker IV, and Derrick White. Reports have Rudy Gay suffering from the same heel issues that kept him unavailable for a portion of last season.
The Spurs season tips off Wednesday and with an uncertain present, the future is in question. Is it time for the Spurs to panic? Will this be the lost season that pundits have predicted for over a decade? Are the Spurs done before it even begins?
This week PtR contributors Mark Barrington, Marilyn Dubinski, Bruno Passos, Jesus Gomez and Jeph Duarte the point guard situation and how it will immediately impact the most consistent team in NBA history.
Believe it not, the question has to be asked — is it time to hit the panic button?
Mark Barrington: With Bryn Forbes as the starting point guard, this is fine.
Marilyn Dubinski: The whispers that White could return in 2-4 weeks instead of 6-8 is preventing me from panicking. The fact that Bryn Forbes and DeMar DeRozan could technically switch roles on the court is also somewhat reassuring.
Bruno Passos: Limping into opening night and having little familiarity are bad regardless, but they’re especially problematic since the tough months of November and December could make or break this season. I’ll give the team a few weeks at least before panicking, but, like it or not, I think we’ll have a good feel for this team’s fortunes sooner rather than later.
Jesus Gomez: It all depends on how long it takes White to return. If he’s actually out for two months, panicking might be the adequate response. If he’s out for two weeks, that changes things. Since the Spurs won’t actually commit to a deadline, instead of panic we are all doomed to feel anxiety until they announce White is back.
Jeph Duarte: Never. Seasons come and go. There will be much for the Spurs to accomplish and learn from one another this season whether the scoreboard reflects wins or losses. The young players really have a shot to develop. And one injury always allows for another player to shine. In the end, the entire team can elevate as a unit and that will compete down the line.
Should the Spurs sign a point guard? If yes, who’d you get from the pool of available unsigned guards?’
Barrington: Jamal Crawford was signed by the Suns, and he’s more of a combo guard, anyway, so I’m out of ideas. I’m OK with picking up a waiver from another team on a minimum or a 2-way, but at this point, let’s roll with Bryn Forbes and see what happens. How bad could it be? [Editor’s Note: That question had better be rhetorical, because you’re not going to be happy with the answer if it’s not. -JRW]
Dubinski: I’d wait and see if the Forbes experiment backfires spectacularly and/or White’s return gets delayed. If they become desperate, then the Spurs can find a way to sign another guard to help hold down the fort (either by waiving Quincy Pondexter or getting a 16th spot via the Disabled Player Exception for Dejounte Murray). Who they should go for (a veteran, young waiver, promising G-League player, etc.) is beyond me.
Passos: Mediocre point-guard play can dramatically limit a team’s ceiling, and there’s no certainty that White will even thrive in that role when he’s back from injury. A stable, pass-first veteran running the show would probably be a great investment, but I’m don’t know anyone still on the market that fits the bill.
Gomez: I think they should sign someone to provide some depth and prevent Pop from having to play his rotation guys too many minutes or having to give Quincy Pondexter playing time. I think Tim Frazier could be a good addition, now that he’s been waived by the Bucks.
Duarte: If Olivier Hanlan or London Perrantes could be brought in (either via two-way contract or the Disabled Player Exception), it would allow Forbes to start while Mills comes off the bench — and Hanlan/Perrantes could serve as a relief player. Both have spent Summer League with the Spurs and would have a decent amount of knowledge to help out while guys recuperate.
If the Spurs could magically get Tony Parker back now, but only as a starter for the rest of the season, would you want him back?
Barrington: Tony is happy where he is, why would he come back? I think while Tony is a better point right now than any of the healthy guards on the Spurs roster, the Spurs will have been better off at the end of the year by letting those guys spend their time on the court and improve their games. Hopefully, the current roster can tread water until Derrick White returns in December or January.
Dubinski: Only if that was what he wanted. He seems perfectly happy in his new situation and has even said he’s sorry about the Spurs’ predicament but isn’t looking back, so neither should we. Of course, if Tony wanted to come back, then I’d be all for it, but regardless I was ready to trust White once Murray went down and still am.
Passos: Emotionally far more than what the impact might be on the court, but sure! Bring him back and purge the Internet of any image of him in purple and teal.
Gomez: That’s a tough question. Tony didn’t play like a quality starter last season and I really want to see what White can do. At the same time, it’s Tony. Sure, I’d want him back.
Duarte: Absolutely not. The team is skewing younger. It’s time to embrace the post-Big 3 era. The next generation of Spurs is here. Getting and staying healthy will be the key to San Antonio hoisting another Larry O’Brien in the next few seasons.
If Rudy Gay is unable to play, who takes his minutes at small forward?
Barrington: I reject the premise of the question. Rudy Gay will be healthy all year. But if he has to take a short vacation, it’s Davis Bertans. He hasn’t looked great in preseason, but he’ll be fine when it counts.
Dubinski: It kinda depends on the match-up. Bertans offers a decent balance between offense and defense but is better as a small-ball power forward, Marco Belinelli would space the floor well for a starting line-up that needs it, and Dante Cunningham is the best defender of the bunch. It might be a game-by-game decision.
Passos: Probably Cunningham, but I don’t like any answer here — Bertans loses a lot of his value when he’s not pulling bigs away from the basket, and Belinelli’s defense against opposing starters gives me heartburn. I’ll go with the guy who raises the defensive floor, can stay in front of at least some of the NBA’s good wings, and hit the corner three.
Gomez: I’d go with Pondexter for a few minutes to start each half and then I’d try to play DeRozan there with Belinelli at shooting guard. If the other team has a big wing, I’d play Dante Cunnnigham some minutes at small forward, but only with Davis Bertans at one of the big man spots.
Duarte: I’d start Dante Cunningham for the time being and have Q-Pon back him with Belinelli at the shooting guard behind DeRozan. Keep Bertans at the 4 as long as possible.
What is your starting line-up for Wednesday?
Barrington: Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay . . . and Jakob Poeltl. I think Pau Gasol will be coming off the bench, although it may not happen immediately, so Pau might be the starter Wednesday.
Dubinski: Forbes, DeRozan, Gay, Aldridge and Gasol. Rudy insists that he’s fine and sitting out the last game was just precautionary, so I trust he’ll be playing in the opener. (Then again, we’ve heard that one before, although unlike White there has not been a bad MRI report since then.) I also think at least for the season opener Pop will go with his tried-and-true big man duo, even if there’s an early substitution to put Gasol with the second unit.
Passos: Gasol, Aldridge, Gay, DeRozan and Forbes seems like a strong favorite, although I worry about a hobbled Gay chasing Wiggins around and think Gibson could make Gasol’s life difficult by running the floor hard.
Gomez: Forbes - DeRozan - Gay - Aldridge - Gasol. I think Pop will start Poeltl instead of Gasol, which makes sense. I just worry about the defense of the second unit with Pau as its anchor.
Duarte: It doesn’t matter who starts, it’s how they adjust throughout the game as the chemistry is determined. In Pop We Trust will be in full effect as the second half may see a different line-up than the first half. Ultimately, great coaching will not only dictate the outcome of the first game, but all 82. Injury or not, Pop will find the best outcome with the pieces at his fingertips.
Do you have thoughts about this weeks round table? Do you have a question for the panel? Head to the comments section now and join in the conversation.