Sure the playoffs are still going on, but nobody cares about that this year, right? For the San Antonio Spurs it’s look-toward-next-season time. Specifically I’d like to look at the Spurs free agency options from playoff teams for this upcoming off season. The first question that needs to be asked is what do the Spurs need?
That question is actually trickier to answer than it would seem to be. It’s followed up with, what do they have? And the honest answer is, do we really even know? San Antonio fell short of making the playoffs in the bubble, but during those 8 games they played better than they had at any point during the rest of the regular season. The complicated part of it is that they did it without 2 important pieces (LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles) and had to completely change their identity as a team to do it. So the question becomes, how do LMA and Lyles fit in with the new identity?
You could answer that with even more questions; do they have a new identity? How much stock do we put into the bubble performance? Is that really the way the coaching staff wants the team to play? We easily come up with question after question, but with no answers. The truth is we need more information. And because were not in on the coaching/management meetings, it’s all really a guessing game until we see something on the court.
But I like exercises in futility for the sake of conversation, and writing is easier when I’m given a prompt, so here is the one for today. Pick one upcoming free agent from every first round series for the Spurs to target.
Sounds simple enough. But before I give you my answers I’d like to qualify them by saying the free agency class this year is pretty thin looking. Sure there is some talent, but nothing pops out as the end all be all answer for San Antonio. To be perfectly frank, I wouldn’t be disappointed if the Spurs stayed silent for all of the free agency period.
Spending money and bringing in someone from the outside during this time in the team’s development doesn’t seem like the right move to make. It would have to be a perfect fit for me to feel comfortable with any signing. And I’ve already said we don’t even know what the team is going to look like. How can we be comfortable with anything at this point. But we need something to talk about, so here we go.
Nothing. There’s nothing here. Wanamaker, Burks, O’Quinn, Neto, Pelle? Do any of those names do anything for you? I know were here for the sake of an argument, but let’s not waste our time more than we already have. Moving on.
At least the options here are more interesting. There are some fringe moves to possibly make here that come with very little risk. Dwight Howard has shown to be a useful player this season after years of bouncing around the league trying to find out how he fits into the new NBA. But ultimately, even though he seems to have matured, I doubt the personality types would fit together. How long before he gets too comfortable and does something to annoy Pop?
My real answer is super flawed and full of “what ifs”, but imagine this story with me. The redemption of Dion Waiters. Here me out. What if Dion Waiters has been humbled by his last couple of years? What would that humbled attitude look like in a positive professional environment that the Spurs provide? What if Dion Waiters accepts his circumstances and finds his calling as a high scoring 6th man much like Lou Williams? Is it probable? Maybe not. But it’s still possible. Of course the Spurs shouldn’t invest too much in this. Only in the lowest of risk situation should this even be considered. They should be able to cut bait at any sign of trouble. They have a solid locker room that’s not worth upsetting for any redemption story.
Nuggets/Jazz and Raptors/Nets
These next two were kind of difficult for me. They both potentially offer up players that are similar enough for me to combine them into one answer. Paul Millsap and Serge Ibaka. I’ll start with the one that is less likely to happen.
Did you know Serge Ibaka is only 30 years old. It seems like he’s been in the league for 15 years. The only reason I put him in here is because he fits a lot of what the Spurs need help with. He’s a big body who can play defense and hit an outside shot. Plus he’s a veteran who has been playing in high stakes games for his entire career. Out of all the options he might be my top choice. But in all reality I don’t see the Raptors letting him go or even him wanting to leave.
Signing Millsap however, might be more of a possibility. He’s 35 and on a team that has several younger and more talented players who will start to need more playing time. Kind of like the Spurs, but at least their young guys wouldn’t be in direct competition for minutes with Millsap. As long as he would accept a lesser role and help a guy like Lyles develop further I could see bringing him in. But his price might be to high for someone to play that role.
Which leads me to my next guy from the. . .
Tyson Chandler. As long as he doesn’t retire, I’d love for the Spurs to bring him in for one last ride. Sure he’s 38 and didn’t play a whole lot this season. I have two things to say about that. First, he’s on the Houston Rockets. What is he supposed to do on the Rockets? Can you imagine Tyson Chandler spotting up in the corner for three while Harden does what he does? No. Second, your not signing him to play a lot of minutes. Your signing him to be almost a player/coach at this point.
With the pieces the Spurs have they are kind of in a waiting game. They don’t need too many extra pieces from the outside. What they need is time. Time do develop further and time to gel together. They need experience.
Why not take some of Chandlers? This is his 19th season in the league. He has lived as many years of his life in the NBA as he has not in the NBA. If the Spurs resign Peoltl what better mentor for playing defensive center in the NBA can you get than Tyson Chandler? Look, I’m not going to throw a fit if they don’t get him. I just think it’s a really good idea.
The last 3 series’ all provide the same type of player the Spurs could use. A veteran, pass first, run the 2nd unit, point guard. The options here are J.J. Barea, D.J. Augustin, and Goran Dragic.
Looking at the Spurs backcourt they don’t have very many playmakers or facilitators. Their leading assist guy was DeMar DeRozan with only 5.6 per game. Next highest was Dejounte Murray with 4.1.
If the Spurs can get that veteran facilitator to run the second team it should open things up and help the development of guys that might play on the second team like Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker IV, and Trey Lyles. Plus, having a mentor to teach Dejounte how to be a better point guard couldn’t hurt. In order my choices would be Dragic, Augustin, Barea.
So there you have it. That’s what I think. Nothing spectacular or earth shattering. Just pieces that can help keep the ship moving in the right direction.