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A look back at an era-defining summer for the San Antonio Spurs

Can the season please just get here already!

NBA: San Antonio Spurs-Press Conference Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The phrase “luck of the draw” embodies this prized organization more than most. From David Robinson to Tim Duncan, and now Victor Wembanyama — when there is a generational big man prospect entering the draft, the Spurs just “know” how to get ‘em.

For most of the past 5 years, the San Antonio Spurs have found themselves teetering, from being “all in” to “all out”, from trying to develop young players to wanting to stay competitive and push for the playoffs. But two years ago, the Spurs decided to make a change, mostly thanks to the vision of their current General Manager Brian Wright: the incumbent of his predecessor, the legendary GM and now current Spurs CEO R.C Buford. They were done being not good enough to win, while simultaneously not being bad enough to secure top odds in the NBA lottery.

They traded/let go their vets (LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills) and embraced the youth movement, letting players such as Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson run the show. The problem was Murray and White had both been in the league for 4+ years and were ready to win. Murray made a big step and became an All-Star, while White showcased himself as being one of the more underrated two-way guards in the league. Still, the Spurs had a problem: neither Murray or White were good enough to help catapult the Spurs to the playoffs, but they still contributed enough wins for the Silver & Black to reach the Play-In tournament, far away from having any sort of realistic odds to land a high draft pick.

Once again, tough decisions had to be made, and Wright did so without hesitation last offseason, trading White at the trade deadline in 2022 and newly-minted All-Star Murray to the Atlanta Hawks the following offseason for a mammoth trade package which included three first-round picks and one pick swap. This put the Spurs in the position to be one of the worst teams in the league in a year where “maybe the greatest prospect in the history of teams sports” was going to be waiting on the other side.

The story has been told already: the Spurs finished 22-60, good enough for a bottom-4 record and a 14% chance at the top pick in the draft. Then came Tuesday, May 16, the day of the draft lottery, where for the third time in Spurs history the “luck of the draw” was on their side as they secured the top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. A short five-and-a-half weeks later, Wright was finally able to make that call to the league office to make it official: the San Antonio Spurs would select Victor Wembanyama #1 out of Metropolitans 92.

Over the past month, the front office has been putting together the roster for their first season with Wemby, with the Spurs mostly staying put, using their $38M in cap space to re-sign their own while taking on expiring contracts from other teams in exchange for future draft assets. Here is a look at the moves the Spurs have made this summer:

NBA Draft

  • Victor Wembanyama #1
  • Sidy Cissoko #44
  • Sir’Jabari Rice UDFA

Free Agency

  • Tre Jones - 2yr/19M (Re-sign)
  • Julian Champagnie - 4yr/12M (Re-sign)
  • Sandro Mamukelashvilli - 1yr/Min (Re-sign)
  • Dominick Barlow - Two-Way (Re-sign)

Trade Season

  • Cedi Osman
  • Reggie Bullock
  • Cameron Payne

Current Roster

Guards: Tre Jones, Malaki Branham, Cameron Payne, Blake Wesley, Devonté Graham, Sir’Jabari Rice (TW)

Wings: Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Doug McDermott, Reggie Bullock, Julian Champagnie, Cedi Osman

Forwards: Victor Wembanyama, Jeremy Sochan, Sandro Mamukelashvilli, Sidy Cissoko

Centers: Zach Collins, Charles Bassey, Khem Birch, Dominick Barlow (TW)

After a host of moves, the Silver & Black’s roster now sits at 20 players, 1 less than the maximum 21 teams are allowed to carry into training camp. The Spurs do have 1 two-way spot left which will most likely be used to bring their roster to the maximum 21 players allowed during the summer.

One of the main goals for San Antonio in the offseason was to reach the salary floor, as the new Collective Bargaining Agreement requires teams to reach a minimum amount of cap spent or teams will face financial penalties. Not only did the Spurs reach the floor unlike they did a season ago, but they have also exceeded the salary cap as they are now approximately $441k over the cap but sit a comfortable $28.8M under the luxury tax line.


Training camp has the potential to be really competitive this year, with the Spurs having to waive/trade 3 players on standard NBA contracts by the end of camp to comply with NBA rules of 15 players allowed on NBA deals during the season and a max of 3 players on two-way contracts. Looking at the potential candidates to not be on the roster come Game 1, I think you have to start with the vets, e.g Cameron Payne, Devonte’ Graham, Doug McDermott, Reggie Bullock, Cedi Osman and Khem Birch, all of whom could have some value to contending teams as a final rotation piece. If the Spurs want to go in a different direction and keep a lot of vets on the roster to at least begin the season, a surprise cut could be one of Blake Wesley, Sandro Mamukelashvilli or Charles Bassey, with those three not on the same level talent-wise right now as some of the others in the young core.

Remember: A lot of the moves the Spurs have made/will make will be a lot to do with building the ideal roster around Wemby. They are going to want shooting, cutting and playmaking around him on offense and good point-of-attack defenders, switchable wings and a physical scrappy center with him on defense.

Final roster predictions:

Third two-way spot:

  • Charles Bediako, Alabama — The rookie center had some flashes of rim protection, rebounding, and finishing around the rim as a roller in the PnR in his stint for the Summer Spurs this past month. He would certainly benefit from staying in the Spurs system and improving his fundamentals in Austin.

Roster cuts/trades:

  • Khem Birch (Waive)
  • Cedi Osman (Trade)
  • Cam Payne (Trade)

Starting 5 in Game 1 (If everyone is available):

  1. Tre Jones
  2. Devin Vassell
  3. Jeremy Sochan
  4. Victor Wembanyama
  5. Zach Collins

Offseason Grade: A+. They got Wemby.