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5 Biggest Questions PATFO Have to Ask This Offseason--#2



Question #2—Can Luka slid into Rudy’s role?

Going into this summer I’ve already discussed what I think the biggest question facing PATFO is going to be with the decision to re-sign DeMar and if so for how much and how long. The 2nd biggest question facing the front office this summer in my opinion is if Luke Samanic is ready to replace Rudy Gay as the 4 off the bench.

The biggest depth issue question going forward for the Spurs comes at the 4 and 5 spots. Currently Rudy offers Pop the ability to play the 4 off the bench (at probably a career best defensively) as well as the ability to take a few minutes here and there against the right matchup as a small ball 5. It would appear that the hope is that going forward Luka would be able to replace Rudy in this spot.

Currently Rudy has a cap hit of 14.5 million for this season and is an Unrestricted Free Agent this summer. Next season Luka will make a shade under 3 million, then 4.5 million in the form of a club option for the 22-23 season and finally can be offered a qualifying offer of 6.5 million in 23-24. Although unlike DeMar I do think Rudy will be looking at taking a pay cut regardless of who he signs with I think he will definitely come in above Luka for next season and probably the next two.

I have been down on Luka probably way more than I should have been over the last 2 years. Although still young and growing into the player he will become I have always been frustrated with what I perceive as a lack of effort and grit in Luka’s game. To me he has rarely (in the NBA) shown toughness in the way he cuts, screens, rebounds, runs in transition or really does anything on the court. Although his time thus far with the big club has almost been exclusively in garbage time it has been incredibly frustrating for me to watch this—I can take missing shots and blown assignments but my perceived lack of effort has always really struck me the wrong way.

With all of that said Luka clearly fits on the timeline of the young Spurs much better than the 34 year old Rudy Guy. For the next 2-3 years I think PATFO have to make a decision this summer if they think Luka can replace what Gay could give them. From a money stand point and an age standpoint there isn’t any question Luka should be the pick but if PATFO do not think Luka can also bring the ability to match what Gay could give them you might see Gay re-signed. I think it would be a huge red flag for what PATFO perceive Luka can be is we see that Rudy Gay has re-signed with the Spurs this summer for really any amount of money. Any time that Rudy spends on the court of the next 2-3 years for the Spurs would be directly at the cost of Luka’s minutes.

I for one hope that Luka can make a big enough positive impression that he can take up the back up 4 minutes going forward and possibly work his way into the starting lineup. He clearly has a skill level that could be extremely useful for the Spurs going forward. Here’s to hoping Luka shows the necessary improvements that PATFO can feel comfortable penciling him in has the backup 4 starting next season.

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