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It’s hard not to root for Cedi Osman

Osman feels like a Spur in every way.

2023-24 San Antonio Spurs Media Day Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

With just over two weeks until the Spurs open the 2023-24 NBA season, there are two remaining questions: who will be in the starting line-up (which was not answered in their preseason opener with Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan being held out), and who will be the odd man out, as the Spurs still sit at 16 guaranteed contracts and will need to cut someone before October 26.

It’s easy to assume that, barring a trade, it’s down to either Khem Birch or Cedi Osman since they are the only two who have not played any regular-season minutes for the Spurs. Birch was acquired last season in the Jakob Poeltl trade but did not play due to a knee injury, and Osman was acquired in the offseason from the Cavaliers. At least on the basketball court, Osman seems to have the upper hand considering he has a healthier track record, provides a skillset the Spurs need in three-point shooting, and it’s hard to ignore that he got regular minutes in the preseason opener while Birch did not play.

But beyond anything on the court, Osman just seems like a very likeable human being. Although he originally learned of the trade via social media (which is never ideal for any player or a good look for an organization), he was still happy when it happened due to the destination. He recently told the San Antonio media that while he enjoyed his six years with the Cavs, it was time to move on, and he couldn’t have been happier to land with the Spurs.

Not only that, but he’s a good cultural fit with the Spurs as well. Originally born in Macedonia and a Turkish citizen through his father, he fits right in to what seems to be an emerging Foreign Legion 2.0 along with Victor Wembanyama, Jeremy Sochan, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Sidy Cissoko and Charles Bassey. Gregg Popovich has always loved bringing in foreign players who bring incite to other cultures, and Osman does just that.

None of this is to say Birch shouldn’t get his chance to earn the final spot or that another move (like trading a veteran) won’t be the way the Spurs ultimately reach 15 guaranteed contracts, but with each passing day, the more I see of Osman, the more it feels like he’s here to stay. He just feels like a Spur.

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