It’s a month later than usual — still a lot better than 2020’s November start — but NBA Free Agency is on the horizon. After the draft got the heartbeat of Spurs fans racing last week (for better or worse), the part of the offseason where the Spurs can really make an impact on the upcoming season is about to begin. Here is everything Spurs fans should know heading into 2021 NBA Free Agency.
What is the official free agency timeline?
Beginning this evening (August 2) at 5:00 PM CT, teams can start contacting and negotiating with free agents. There will be a moratorium period until August 6 — which probably gives Spurs fans PTSD after the Marcus Morris debacle of two summers ago — when beginning at 11:00 AM contracts can begin being signed. Negotiations on rookie extension deals cannot begin until midnight tonight.
The following key dates have been announced: pic.twitter.com/pKUJ7ETW3c— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) April 19, 2021
Do the Spurs have any players eligible for a rookie extension?
Yes, Lonnie Walker IV just completed his third season with the Spurs and is therefore eligible to sign an extension on his rookie contract, which would kick in next summer. Whether that happens or not is another story. After Dejounte Murray and Derrick White both signed extensions over the last two free agency periods, Walker’s path forward with the Spurs isn’t quite as clear.
He hasn’t shown as much or been given as much playing time, making his value harder to gauge. He likely knows he can up his value with a stronger 2021-22 season and may choose to do just that over possibly signing low now. Should he wait a year, he could either accept a Spurs offer next summer or become a restricted free agent (unless the Spurs outright denounce his rights, then he’d be unrestricted). Long story short, a contract extension for Walker this year is possible, but not probable.
What Spurs players are under contract heading into next season?
- Dejounte Murray
- Derrick White
- Jakob Poeltl
- Lonnie Walker
- Devin Vassell
- Luka Samanic
- Keldon Johnson
- Drew Eubanks (partially guaranteed)
- Tre Jones
2021 Draft picks Josh Primo and Joes Wieskamp (presumably) will soon join. (Second round picks are not required to be signed for teams to maintain their rights, but all signs indicate Wieskamp will be a Spur.)
What Spurs players are hitting free agency?
- DeMar DeRozan
- Rudy Gay
- Patty Mills
- Trey Lyles
- Gorgui Dieng
- Quinndary Weatherspoon
- Kieta Bates-Diop*
Bates-Diop has been given a qualifying offer and is a restricted free agent. The Spurs can match any offer that comes his way or have until August 13 to rescind the offer.
How much cap space do the Spurs have?
Spurs are projected to have $48 million of cap space to work with this summer, which is second in the NBA behind the New York Knicks, according to Draft Kings.
Any Spurs rumors to keep an eye on heading in free agency?
- Although pundits continue to insist DeRozan re-signing with the Spurs remains on the table, he’s still expected to receive plenty of other offers from teams in better positions to win. While the Lakers’ blockbuster deal that got them Russell Westbrook ahead of the draft likely rules DeRozan out unless he’s willing to take the mid-level exception, the most recent rumor involving him centers around a possible reunion with Kyle Lowry in Miami. The Heat are expected to trade Goran Dragic to the Raptors to acquire Lowry but would likely need DeRozan to be willing to sign the full MLE or pull off a sign-and-trade to make it work. Other teams that have reportedly expressed interest in DeRozan include the Knicks, Mavericks, and Clippers, although re-signing Kawhi Leonard — who opted out of his contract — will be their top priority.
- Perhaps the hardest player to lose would be Patty Mills, who is the longest tenured Spur, only remaining part from their 2014 championship team, and the soul of the locker room. The Celtics and Lakers are among teams reportedly interested, so the Spurs may have to pay up to keep him. The Celtics are also said to be interested in Rudy Gay.
- Notable free agents the Spurs have reportedly expressed interest in or vice versa include forwards John Collins (RFA), Lauri Markkanen (RFA), Kelly Oubre, and Zach Collins, among others.
- The Spurs are reportedly interested in re-signing Gourgi Dieng at the bi-annual exception (around $3.7 million). The Suns are said to be another interested party.