With COVID currently running through the NBA and the league doing everything it can to keep going, teams are currently allowed to sign up to three players on 10-day medical hardship contracts if enough of the roster is out. The depleted Spurs did just that in the last week with Tyler Johnson, Jaylen Morris and Anthony Lamb, but there’s also an opportunity to have some fun with the idea and bring back more unexpected yet well-known players to the league, as some teams have done.
Players like Lance Stephenson and Joe Johnson have recently made a return to the league due to COVID-related absences? Who would be the most fun former Spur or old star that San Antonio could sign?
Marilyn Dubinski: Naturally I would take any of the Big Three or David Robinson, or even Sean Elliott just so he can go out there and say “Back in my day, that wasn’t a foul!” to the refs. In more realistic terms (as in players who aren’t old, retired, and would theoretically be available), maybe Marco Belinelli could return from Italy and contribute to the Spurs’ sudden lack of wing depth. (It’s an even year, so that would mean good Marco shooting! Plus who doesn’t want to see the return of “Marco Watch” in Charlie Thaddeus’ What We Learned articles? Just don’t play him alongside Bryn Forbes, Pop.)
The Spurs could also hand out some second chances to promising players who didn’t quite pan out with them or fizzled out of the league after they left, like Brandon Paul, Jonathon Simmons or Joffrey Lauvergne — assuming that finger is healed up. (Okay, making everyone watch that finger video again is the only reason I brought him up since the Spurs don’t need a center.) Probably the one former Spur that would be a legit good signing would be Nando de Colo, but he has it made over in Europe. He’s not coming back on a 10-day.
Mark Barrington: The obvious choice is Tim Duncan, who can still play, of course. I’d love to see Boris Diaw put on the Silver and Black again, because he has that certain je ne sais quoi and it really doesn’t matter if he’s in shape or not, he can get himself open and score points. Manu Ginobili is another easy choice, since he’s already with the team, and could do anything that’s required on offense of defense.
George Gervin can still finger roll, and nobody will want to mess with the Ice Man. His lack of speed on defense might be a problem, though. Avery Johnson can intimidate the other team with his voice, so he doesn’t even need to get on the court.
Questions like this are fun, but realistically, I’d like to poach some of the guys on 10-day contracts from other teams, like the guys that outworked the Spurs in the second Pistons game, including Cassius Stanley, who really looks like a player. He definitely outplayed some of the Spurs regulars, and could be a keeper.
Bruno Passos: I’m going to take conservative liberties in assuming this player would be able to step on the court today and still play. Manu is the obvious fun one but the game has already exacted enough of a toll on his body, so I’ll go with one of my favorite one-off mercenaries, Andre Miller, whose 52-point performance in his mid 30s required the bare minimum of pop and athleticism. Who’s to say he can’t give other COVID call-ups buckets a decade later? I’m also convinced David Lee could still come off the bench and give them 10 and 7.
Jesus Gomez: Without a doubt, Stephen Jackson. I would have gone with DeJuan Blair, but I watched him look fully defeated in the Argentine League, which was depressing enough. Jack, on the other hand, probably thinks he’s better than half the Spurs’ roster, because his confidence turned to delusion years before he retired, so he would actually try to compete. It would be entertaining to see him mentor Keldon Johnson, who has mastered Jack’s slow but hard to contest shot, while simultaneously trying to take his job. The 10-day contract would surely end in drama, like Jackson’s last stint with the Spurs did, but we’d have some fantastic quotes in the meantime.
If Jack is too much trouble for Pop at this point, I’d like to see one of the obscure draft-and-stash guys or the OG G League guys who the Spurs used to have the rights to get a shot, if only to justify all those FIBA games I watched to scout them. Remember Nemanja Dangubic and Ryan Richards? How about James Gist and Deshaun Thomas? I remember them all and how they play, and would love to have something useful to do with that information.