Okay, wait, let’s look around the room and see who’s still here.
Danny Green opted in.
Rudy Gay and Joffrey Lauverne opted out.
Manu Ginobili hasn’t spoken up yet but he is on the books and (most Spurs fans believe) has enough left in the tank for another run.
So there are plenty of guards on the roster: Dejounte Murray, Danny Green, Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Brandon Paul and Derrick White.
As far as big men go, both LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol are set to return.
In addition, qualifying offers have been extended to Kyle Anderson, Dāvis Bertāns, Bryn Forbes, and Darrun Hilliard. If all four of them accept (and assuming Darrun Hilliard is a two-way contract), there are eleven players set to return. Twelve if you are of the belief that Lonnie Walker will be suiting up in San Antonio this season.
Technically thirteen if you count Kawhi Leonard.
Which is what makes speculating the Spurs needs going into free agency tomorrow even more difficult. It’s hard to target a free agent if you are unsure of a player’s state. But planning around the possibility of a hole left by a player once considered to be one of the best in the league has got to be a navigation of gargantuan proportions.
Considering that Kawhi Leonard’s exit involves a trade and not knowing what players will be coming in makes free agency near impossible. The return on Leonard could fill the roster.
Depending on which pundit has the loudest megaphone, Leonard’s value is wavering in the immediate LeBron James sweepstakes of supply and demand. One minute, power is believed to be in the hands of the Spurs who retain Leonard’s services and can place him anywhere which may send James like a dog in heat in the same direction.
On the other hand, belief permeates that Leonard’s value diminishes if the James settles first leaving the Lakers to wait out a year for him and everyone else seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
And still, power might be at the hands of Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics who have the most tradable assets on hand at the moment.
Finally, time might be holding the all the cards. While free agency may come and sweep LeBron James to his next destination without retaining the sidekick services of Kawhi, Leonard’s light will shine brightest two weeks before the trade deadline. As teams that are only hopeful now begin to see the reality of the postseason setting in, retaining Leonard — even only until June — might be enough to make the Spurs winners in the trade.
If time is truly the most valuable card in the deck, there is no one is better to be playing this hand than Gregg Popovich. The most tenured head coach in the NBA (by a decade) knows the value of patience. He’s waited out off seasons only to return and win championships. And while his most valuable player has retired, there is nothing in Pop’s personae which should lead him to make a hasty call now.
So, that said, there are two roster spots available. And considering Leonard sat out most of the season due to either acute tendinopathy or severe disinterest, it may be best to plan around his apathy until he realized he is in fact going to have to put his best out there to get any deal as he heads into free agency next season.
Two roster spots. And one two-way contract. We’re guard heavy and in possible need of a starting small forward and a younger big man.
What do you think? Who should the Spurs target, if anyone, starting at midnight this morning?
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