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Where the Spurs stand after the Sidy Cissoko and Dominick Barlow signings

The Spurs signed two young players and are now at the roster limit, but that doesn’t mean they are done with the offseason.

NBA: Kings Summer Classic-Charlotte Hornets at San Antonio Spurs Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs recently made the signings of Sidy Cissoko and Dominick Barlow official. The 44th overall pick of the 2023 draft will be under contract for three years while the athletic second-year big man will return on a two-way deal.

The signings can seem a little confusing since Barlow had a great showing at Summer League and made a case for a standard deal while Cissoko looked raw. The Spurs now also have 18 players on their normal roster, plus two other guys in two-way deals, which means they’ll need to make some cuts. To better understand what’s happening, let’s break things down.

Cissoko is likely on a Tre Jones-type contract

It might seem odd for Cissoko, a mid-second-round pick, to earn a standard deal instead of signing a two-way contract, but there is a recent precedent for how the Spurs like to deal with projects. When San Antonio landed Tre Jones with the 41st pick in the draft, they also signed the point guard to a three-year contract worth the minimum that wasn’t fully guaranteed. By doing so, they secured his services for cheap for the duration of the contract and also full Bird rights to re-sign him when it expired. They are likely doing the same with Cissoko.

It’s the type of contract that a team gives to a prospect whose destiny they want to control. The Spurs could have simply offered a two-way deal, but those only last two years at the most, which means that the team wouldn’t have full Bird rights after he became a free agent. A four-year deal would have allowed Cissoko to enter unrestricted free agent after his contract was up. Three years is the perfect amount of time to really be able to develop a player without restrictions while also making sure he can be retained after his first deal is up. And if the Spurs actually made the last couple of years non-guaranteed, they can move on at any time, so there’s no risk.

Barlow is likely on the team’s future plans despite his two-way status

Barlow had a decent rookie season with the Spurs and shined in Summer League, so it’s fair to ask why Cissoko is getting a standard deal while Barlow has to settle for a two-way contract. Does it mean that the front office doesn’t value the young big man? Not necessarily.

It was clear that there was an agreement between Barlow and the Spurs to sign a second two-way deal. It was hinted at by reporters and it made sense. Barlow progressed a lot in San Antonio and Austin but probably needs more seasoning in order to become a rotation player in the NBA and he can get that both in the big club and the affiliate. If he shows enough progression, he could end up getting his contract transformed into a multi-year standard one like Charles Bassey.

There’s really no rush to commit to Barlow, since other teams won’t be able to poach him while he’s on a two-way deal. It’s likely that if he shines and there’s a mid-season trade that clears some roster spots, he’ll get his standard contract then. For now, being patient and not committing to each other is probably for the best for both parties.

The team is at the roster limit but it doesn’t mean this is the training camp roster

The Spurs currently have 20 players under contract, including the guys on two-way deals, which is the maximum they can carry in the offseason. They still have the full room exception, which means adding someone else isn’t off the table, but to do that they would have to waive someone. At first glance, it seems like San Antonio has locked itself into a training camp roster already, but that’s not necessarily true.

The simplest reason why it’s not crazy to think more moves could come is that the Spurs would still have one of the lowest payrolls in the league even if they waived someone making eight figures and used the full room exception worth around $7 million. Having dead money on the books is not ideal, but they got cash from the Suns in the Cameron Payne trade, which would make it less painful. It’s unlikely there’s anyone out there this late in the offseason the Spurs actually want to get but if there is, money shouldn’t be a big issue.

If there is any big move, though, it would probably come via trade. If Damian Lillard gets moved San Antonio could be the perfect team to get involved as the third team that facilitates the transaction. There’s also always a possibility someone from a playoff team gets hurt at the last minute and the Spurs have a few veterans that could become attractive in that situation. It’s possible this roster will the one that starts training camp, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see a change before then.