Before the start of last offseason, I said the following: “This will be the most intriguing and fascinating San Antonio offseason since 2015”. Well, one year later I repeat the sentiment over again. After a 34-48 season and a second straight first round play-in loss, the San Antonio Spurs are once again preparing for the offseason before the playoffs even begin.
This year saw an abundance of personal and team growth and a bunch of solid foundational pieces starting to unfold, which should give fans hope that the current three-year playoff drought will end sooner than expected. Last summer I wished to see Brian Wright, R.C Buford, Gregg Popovich and the rest of the front office be aggressive in their approach to team building, and I’m happy to report that’s exactly what they did. Since the start of free agency last August, the Spurs have collected three first round picks, six seconds and a few young, talented players. They now have the resources to go in any direction they choose, whether that may be, option A: cashing in on one player, or option B: slowly building through the draft.
The first season of the rebuild was a success because it laid the foundation for this franchise to decide how they want to proceed in building this team back into a contender, now the next few months will show us which path they will go: A or B.
This year’s NBA Lottery falls on the May 17 and will be the Spurs most anticipated one since the 1997 edition where they were given the #1 pick (which later became Tim Duncan), and the rest was history. San Antonio has the best odds they have had since then but still not anywhere good enough where a number one pick is probable. They have a 20.3% chance of a Top 4 selection and only a 4.5% shot the top spot. The Silver & Black do have another two first rounders that have to be decided as well because Toronto and Boston both tied with other teams in overall record. Those tiebreakers will be settled by a coin flip. The Raptors pick will be either 20 or 21, while the Celtics will be between 23-25. They also have the Lakers second round pick, which sits at 38th, but the Cavaliers have the Spurs’ second round pick at 39th.
Prediction: With only a one in five chance of moving up, May 17 ends with the Spurs picking at 9th, which would be their highest selection since Duncan and their third straight lottery pick, to go along with those top 20, top 30 and top 40 picks they acquired from other teams.
After finding out which numbers they will select at, the Spurs will then have until June 23 to decide who they will pick and if they will keep all four draft selections. In previous years, there have been lots of chatter pre-draft of San Antonio moving up or down the board, but nothing has materialized and they have stayed put. Will this year be the year they finally make a draft day trade?
Prediction: The Spurs keep their 9th overall pick and trade one of the later ones for future draft compensations. With 8 guaranteed contracts on the books for next season already and another four on non-guaranteed deals, the Silver & Black don’t have much room to maneuver if they do in fact pick up four new rookies in the top 40, three of which would require guaranteed contracts if they aren’t draft-and-stashes. If they do move away from one of their picks, there is a good chance they get a similar compensation (two future first rounders) to what the OKC Thunder got when they traded away a mid first rounder just last year.
This year’s free agency will begin July 1st at 5PM CT. Last offseason, the Spurs had the second highest amount of cap space in the league with over $50 million to spend, but unfortunately it was a very lackluster free agency class. Once again they are projected to have the second most amount of money, but again the available talent will be lacking, with only a few notable names on expiring contracts. San Antonio could have over $30 million to spend if they decide to let Lonnie Walker IV walk and not bring back a few of their non-guaranteed deals (Zach Collins, Tre Jones, Jock Landale & Keita Bates-Diop).
Prediction: With up to four top 40 picks and a whole bunch of young, talented guards and wings in this year’s draft, I believe the Spurs let Lonnie walk and invest in their rookie class. They also guarantee Collins, Jones and one of Landale or Bates-Diop. This will give the Silver & Black around 30 million to spend in which they will aggressively pursue one of the top free agents, which includes Zach LaVine, Deandre Ayton, Bradley Beal or Miles Bridges, in order to add a 1b to Dejounte Murray’s 1a.
There are two Spurs who are eligible for a rookie extension this summer, Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones. Both have one year remaining on the deal they signed after being drafted. In the past three years, the Spurs have given two rookie extensions out: Murray’s 4yrs/$64 mil and Derrick White’s 4yrs/$72 mil. Last summer they decided not to offer Walker a deal, allowing him to play out his rookie contract and become a restricted free agent this July.
Prediction: The Spurs come to an agreement with Johnson just before the new season begins with a deal in the range of 4yrs/$75-85 million, while Jones is allowed to play out his rookie deal and become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2023.
Ever since the 2014 NBA championship there have been questions surrounding the retirement of the legendary head coach and those have started to intensify this season after Coach Pop broke the All-Time wins record and seemingly has very little if any more to achieve in the sport. In his final press conference of the season, Gregg Popovich was asked about his future in which he replied, “That question is inappropriate,” leaving the rumor mill open for speculation.
Prediction: The San Antonio Spurs 2022-23 head coach is ... Gregg Popovich for the 27th straight season. With Becky Hammon, who was the favorite to take over for Pop, deciding to leave and coach the Las Vegas Aces, it seems like all directions are pointing towards Pop sticking around to continue imprinting his knowledge on this new, young group of Spurs.
If there is one thing for sure, this is going to be another exciting offseason for everyone revolving around the Silver & Black as they head into year two of the rebuild. Make sure to continue checking out Pounding the Rock this summer as we give you the latest and most in-depth Spurs content thanks to our outstanding team of writers and editors.
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