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Grading the Spurs offseason

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There might be some small moves coming, but the Spurs won’t likely make any major waves for the rest of the offseason. The PtR staff discusses how the front office has done so far.

2021 Salt Lake City Summer League: San Antonio Spurs v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

How would you grade the Spurs’ offseason in general?

Marilyn Dubinski: During the initial shock of their drafting of Josh Primo at 12th overall, I was part of the group that was ready to panic because it was unclear what was going on. However, the nerves eventually settled and I realized what direction they were headed: playing the long game. Primo may not be an immediate contributor, but his potential is tantalizing enough to be willing to wait. Even though the signings of Doug McDermott and Zach Collins are uninspiring on their own, they are players who fit next to the current roster and won’t get in the way of the development of others. They got something in return for DeMar DeRozan, and even if the possibility of getting Lauri Markkanen was more intriguing than two expiring contracts, I’m glad the Spurs didn’t overpay for him. It was tough but unsurprising seeing Rudy Gay and Patty Mills walk. Overall, in terms of playing the long game and leaving cap space for next summer’s more intriguing free agency class, I give them a B.

Mark Barrington: If your goal was improving the win-loss record next season, then it’s probably a failing grade, because the team lost its proven scorers in DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay. But if you’re looking for a change in direction and finally putting the team in the hands of the young players, then it’s this was a triumph. The team can’t just sit back at the end of games and watch DeMar create the final shot. It’s a move back towards team basketball, and it’s going to be rough next season, but it was a change that had to happen. In the long term, the team is going to be better, and for that, I could give them a passing grade. But it’s still an incomplete, because they still need to add more players, and Brian Wright’s stockpiling of draft picks is a step in that direction.

Bruno Passos: B-plus? I don’t know that this summer moves the needle in terms of wins for next season, but that’s clearly not the priority for Brian Wright and Co. right now. I love the Doug McDermott fit, don’t mind the Bryn Forbes return, Jock Landale: S Tier name, and am undecided on the Zach Collins signing, but I appreciate the bigger picture that they’ve got a roster that’s better built to let the young guys loose, having freed up touches and opened the floor a bit more, and every contract on the roster is tradable. The latter point is all the more interesting because of the assets the front office picked up additional assets that can help them trade for a star in the future, including what will likely be Detroit’s 2022 2nd round pick and Chicago’s protected 2025 first-round pick. I’m taking those pickups as a sign that, while the Spurs haven’t yet been able to swing for a higher upside player thus far, they’re positioning themselves for that possibility in the event the youths don’t look the part this season.

Jesus Gomez: I think a B- seems right. Letting go of DeRozan, Gay and even Mills seems like the right course of action, even if it probably was a little painful to go through with it. Adding McDermott seems like a good idea. The sign-and-trade with the Bulls was a clever way to get something back for someone that was leaving while also likely helping the team’s reputation for being player friendly. Forbes and Collins could be good additions, if things go right. The Primo pick was bold and the Wieskamp selection a little safer, which is a nice balance.

There’s nothing too exciting or noteworthy about the offeseason, no obvious huge steals or bargains, which prevents the grade from being higher, but the Spurs did enough right to get more than just a passing grade.

J.R. Wilco: If the day before the draft, you’d told me that by the end of free agency the Spurs would have filled their hole at power forward and added legit shooters, while doing so with complimentary guys who’d give the young core an opportunity to show whether they’re worthy of building around, and do it without locking themselves into any potentially crippling long-term contracts — I’d have told you I’d give that off-season a B+ to an A-. So now that it’s all happened, but there’s still no solid answer for how the team will be able to create offense or generate mismatches ... let’s go with B+. (Of course, if Primo turns out to be the second coming of Michael Jordan, I reserve the right to retroactively nudge that grade back into A territory.)

What was the most surprising move for you?

Dubinski: As off guard as drafting Primo caught me, the moment that left me scratching my head the most was seeing that Bryn Forbes was coming back. It was something I never saw coming; I never really saw him wanting to come back after winning a championship, nor did I see the Spurs bringing him back after seemingly stepping away from his type of one-dimensional play. That being said, I see what’s happening. I believe his family is still in San Antonio, and he basically owes his career to the organization, so I can see him wanting to come back. The Spurs could also use his shooting to replace Mills, so he has a use. As long as Pop doesn’t over-play or, heaven forbid, start him, I’m ok with it. It still surprised me, though.

Barrington: It has to be the draft of Josh Primo at the 12th spot. I honestly expected them to sign a project big like Kai Jones, not another freakin’ guard. Primo wasn’t even on my radar until late in the first or early second round. How Primo has looked so far (in a very small sample) proves that I’m not as smart as the Front Office, because he looks like he’s going to be a star in this league. He’s amazing, and he’s younger than most of the guys who are going to be drafted next year. The Spurs drafted the best available player instead of going for positional need, and that seems like it’s going to be a smart decision. The pickup of Jock Landale will probably help a lot with depth at the 4/5, so they didn’t really have to draft a big after all.

Passos: The Primo pick was certainly unexpected but only because of all the pre-draft content that was always imperfect intel and projection to begin with. We probably should’ve known better. Patty walking was a mild surprise, given all he’s meant to the franchise, but the growing vibe was that the franchise was heading towards a refresh. Zach Collins would’ve raised an eyebrow but we heard rumors of team interest in the weeks ahead. Each move felt a half beat off from being a shocker, from my perspective at least, but I’ll go with Patty who made it twice in three years that the Spurs let a guard whose jersey will soon be hanging from the rafters go east for relatively little money.

Gomez: The DeRozan sign-and-trade, probably. Not DeRozan’s departure, to be clear, but the actual transaction. I had seen fans on Twitter and the comments concocting all these trades that seemed way too optimistic, considering the assets that normally change hands in sign-and-trades, and laughed, only to be surprised by a deal that was much better than I expected. The draft picks alone were a haul, but Thaddeus Young also has value. I simply didn’t anticipate the Spurs doing that well, but it was a pleasant surprise.

Wilco: The Primo pick stunned me, but I soon calmed down. The DmDr trade raised my eyebrows for how much they got for a guy that the internet had decided no one wanted to trade for, but I’ve learned enough by now to keep from believing most of what the internet considers to be true. So I’ll go with Jock Landale. Not that I’m necessarily surprised that the Spurs signed him, but more about the fact that a 25-year-old, 6’11, Aussie armed with a quick second-jump, a knack around the rim and a decent three-point stroke even exists for them to find in the first place. (I’m sure PATFO owes Patty some thanks for the tip.)

Do you think they are done?

Dubinski: Stuff still has to happen because they are over the limit for guaranteed contracts, but I don’t see any other roster-shaking moves happening. I can seem them trading the expiring contracts of Al-Farouq Aminu or Thaddeus Young for draft picks, but for the most part I think they have the roster they plan on playing next season.

Barrington: Probably not, now that the most consequential moves have been completed. The biggest remaining thing is probably trying to move Thad Young for picks or future assets, since he doesn’t really fit in with the youth movement. But there will probably be something we don’t expect, until it hits us unexpectedly like the aftertaste of a ghost pepper. Man, I didn’t expect that to be so hot. Can somebody get me a beer?

Passos: In terms of meaningful moves, probably, although as noted above the roster needs some trimming before the season starts. Although I have had a hot streak in some kind of news breaking in between submitting my answers and these articles being published so, just in case, No They Are Not Done and Welcome To San Antonio, Ben Simmons!

Gomez: I hope not, but it seems like it. It would be great if the Spurs could reroute Young for an asset of some kind but keeping him until the deadline would not be the worst thing. There should be some movement in the margins, so my inexplicable dream of seeing Jarred Vanderbilt in Silver and Black still lives on, but nothing too exciting will happen, in all likelihood.

Wilco: Yup. The most likely outcome is that some of the new guys are dropped before the season to get to the roster number, and then anyone who doesn’t find a fit during the season is traded for picks and assets before the deadline.