It is the week that we have all been waiting for but seemed like a pipedream until just 33 days ago. In just three days, Victor Wembanyama will be a San Antonio Spur, and for what will hopefully be the third time in franchise history, the team’s fortunes will turn on a dime. With that in mind, here are three storylines to keep an eye on building up to Thursday, June 22 and beyond.
Wemby, of course
Naturally, Wembanyama will the the center of the entire NBA universe this week. He’s the most hyped prospect since LeBron James with the added bonus of being deep in the age of social media, so all eyes are and will remain on him and every move he makes going forward (especially those of Rockets fans, who have developed an obsessive disdain for him on Twitter because he “reacted” to them getting the 4th overall pick at his 2:30 AM lottery watch party).
They may have a point, as Wemby himself seems excited to be heading to San Antonio and even had to hold himself back from accidently naming the Spurs as his future team before they’ve even drafted him, which I guess would be considered tampering punishable by a fine, but it would be the most laughable case ever.
Le fou rire de Wembanyama après avoir failli commettre une gaffe en annonçant le choix de sa futur en franchise en NBA... pic.twitter.com/Bt1aWPWQGv— RMC Sport (@RMCsport) June 16, 2023
“It’s going to be very busy. I know that after draft I have to go back and forth to S...(laughs)...I go back and forth to the United States, and I haven’t made a lot of mistakes in interviews. I’m not starting today.”
(Translation courtesy of Jeff Garcia at KENS 5.)
He has also been seen signing Spurs jerseys and praising Spurs fans on social media.
Victor Wembanyama already signing Spurs jerseys with his name on them— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 19, 2023
"Spurs Deadass got the best fanbase in the league"— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) June 18, 2023
Victor Wembanyama shows love to Spurs fans before the NBA draft
It’s good to know that your potential star of the future wants to be here. Many may remember Zion Williamson going viral for his seemingly negative reaction to the Pelicans winning the 2019 Lottery, and his indifference to being there is starting to show as he has was in no rush to return and help his team make the playoffs and reportedly has no relationships within the club. Fortunately, it doesn’t look like that will be a problem for the Spurs and Wemby, who has arrived on U.S. soil!
Wemby en route pour la Draft ️ pic.twitter.com/5Q9WTHKbOc— Wemby France (@VicWembanyamaFR) June 19, 2023
Still looking for another first round draft pick
Since the Spurs drafting Wemby is all but a done deal, the more intriguing draft night storyline to watch will be if they can achieve their other goal of acquiring another lottery pick to draft a point guard. Unless they can strike a deal with someone who is much more interested in future assets, it’s hard to see them being able to pull off such a trade without giving up one of their more valuable players, like Keldon Johnson or Devin Vassell, and at this point nothing has indicated they are interested in dealing either of them.
Where they could possibly find a team willing to work with them without demanding someone from their core could be with one of the teams with multiple first round picks and hope they may be looking more for a veteran and future picks to start rising up the ranks sooner. The Orlando Magic, who have both the 6th and 11th overall picks, could be one such team. Would they take something that includes veterans like Devonte’ Graham and/or Doug McDermott and some future draft picks for that 11th pick? Or maybe the Spurs could look just outside the lottery and find a deal with the Jazz, who own the 9th and 16th picks.
The bottom line is it’s a lofty goal to hope someone will give them another lottery pick to go along with Wemby without giving up a key player they’d rather keep in return, but this is the Spurs we’re talking about, and with the brains in that front office, anything is possible.
Looking ahead to free agency
Not only do the Spurs have plenty of cap space to use, but if they don’t accomplish their goal of drafting another young point guard — or even if they do but want another veteran presence on the team — they could look to free agency. There were recently rumors about them looking to sign Chris Paul should the Suns waive him, but instead he was just traded to Washington for Bradley Beal. While he still might be redirected to another team like the Clippers, it probably won’t be the Spurs since they don’t fit his timeline of wanting to immediately join a contender (and, to be honest, he doesn’t fit theirs either).
For the most part, though, the free agency cupboard is a little bare this year. The only other starter-level point guards available are Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook and Fred VanVleet, with the latter being the only one who would even remotely make sense for the Spurs. Beyond that it’s mostly rotation level guards, and the Spurs already have one of those in Tre Jones, should they retain him. They could also look to add more depth at center, or even pay up to sign a more sure thing at starter (like Brook Lopez or Nikola Vucevic) and keep Zach Collins coming off the bench, but those players are at that age where overpaying for them would be risky, especially when the team don’t have to dive into win-now mode.
Whatever the Spurs do, this will without a doubt be the most interesting offseason they’ve had in quite a while, and like Jesus Gomez already said, not matter what they do, it has already been a success.