2019-2020 San Antonio Spurs Offseason Roster Priorities

Embed from Getty Images

Going into next season, the Spurs will have to make decisions about which player(s) on the current roster to build around. Their two best assets, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, essentially play the same style and areas of the floor and areΩxdfsza the largest pieces of the salary cap. The team can undoubtedly succeed with both players, but keeping both does not give San Antonio a lot of financial flexibility to improve.

Current Depth Chart:

PG: Dejounte Murray – Derrick White – Patty Mills
SG: Bryn Forbes – Lonnie Walker
SF: DeMar DeRozan – Marco Bellinelli
PF: Davis Bertans
C: LaMarcus Aldridge – Jakob Poetl

Draft Picks Added to the Roster:

#19: Luke Samanic SF/PF – Croatia
#29: Keldon Johnson SF – Kentucky
#49: Quinndary Weatherspoon SG – Mississippi State

Unrestricted Free Agents + Two-Way Contracts:

Rudy Gay, Quincy Pondexter, Dante Cunningham, Chimezie Metu and Donatas Montiejunas; Drew Eubanks and Ben Moore

With 10 players currently under contract, San Antonio will only be able to have one rookie on the active 12-man roster assuming they choose to re-sign Rudy Gay. The likely selection in that scenario would be Luka Samanic, due his versatility to play both the small and power forwards spots. However, there is a possibility of moving pieces this offseason to ensure Keldon Johnson makes the roster as well.

Considered somewhat of a steal for the Spurs at 29, Johnson is a rangy player with the ability to drive and finish at the rim in addition to knocking down the 3-ball. Thin at both forward positions, San Antonio has a real need for both he and Samanic to make and contribute to the team sooner rather than later. To ensure Johnson and Samanic are signed to the active 12-man roster next season, at least the first two transactions below should occur this offseason:

1. Refrain from re-signing Pondexter or Cunningham: Both Cunningham and Pondexter were signed to minimal contracts last season as added depth in the wake of losing Kawhi Leonard and the costly injury to Dejounte Murray. Neither player provided huge contributions to the rotation for most of the season. Choosing to resign either for another year or two would be wasted space on the cap sheet that the front office could use to add better pieces.

2. Trade away Patty Mills contract: Parting with a fan favorite is not an easy thing to do, but Mills is already 30 and no closer to starting than he was when Tony Parker held the position. As the third highest paid player on the team, the Aussie guard should be more productive than tied for 6th in minutes and scoring. With a guaranteed contract of $12.4 and $13.3 million over the next two seasons, the cost to retain Mills is too steep.

Murray (22) and Derrick White  (24) have been given the keys to this team. White gained valuable experience in Murray’s absence and had some pretty impressive playoff performances. Now that White has emerged and Murray is returning from injury, Mills window to see increased playing time is dwindling.

3. Resign Rudy Gay: The Spurs frontcourt was much more dynamic with Gay on the floor and they could really use his athleticism again next season. As the team’s second-leading rebounder and primary scoring option behind Aldridge and DeRozan, Gay has regained some of his top form since suffering an Achilles injury. Coming back to the Spurs would easily make the 13-year pro the best option at the power forward position. A small contract could be a good option for both parties, especially since San Antonio is wanting to develop Samanic quickly.

4. Field offers for DeMar DeRozan: After next season, DeRozan has a player-option on his contract for $27.7 million. There’s a good chance he turns that down and looks for a new home that suits his interests. As a loyal member of the Toronto Raptors, DeRozan felt betrayed by the organization he loved. It hasn’t been voiced through the media his opinion of the Spurs and staying beyond this contract.

If he thinks this is the new home for him, great for San Antonio. However, the front office cannot take risks in the event DeRozan decides to opt out and the Spurs get nothing in return for the former All-Star. As a healthy and non-disgruntled star, the potential returns should be adequate to keep the franchise competitive in the Western Conference for years to come.

I view this as a last resort option for the organization, as keeping his talent will outweigh any potential returns in a trade. San Antonio is unlikely to recover DeRozan’s talent in a single-player trade and the team is already strapped for playing time and space with its current construction if multiple players are received. A possible option though could be finding a way to trade for the Wizards Bradley Beal.

Possible trade option: Washington Wizards send Bradley Beal/Rui Hachimura/Jordan McRae for DeMar DeRozan/Patty Mills

The results of these moves would give San Antonio the following depth chart with and without DeRozan:

PG: Dejounte Murray – Derrick White
SG: Bryn Forbes – Lonnie Walker – Quinndary Weatherspoon
SF: DeMar DeRozan – Marco Bellinelli – Keldon Johnson
PF: Davis Bertans – Luka Samanic
C: LaMarcus Aldridge – Jakob Poetl

PG: Dejounte Murray – Derrick White
SG: Bryn Forbes – Lonnie Walker – Quinndary Weatherspoon
SF: Marco Bellinelli – Keldon Johnson
PF: Davis Bertans – Luka Samanic
C: LaMarcus Aldridge – Jakob Poetl

I have included Quinndary Weatherspoon on the depth chart, since his game is fairly developed at both ends of the floor. Resigning Chimezie Metu is another option to add frontcourt versatility and athleticism on a cheap contract. However, the results of the Mills (and potentially DeRozan) trade will determine the space available to include either player on the roster next season. The main problem is solving the team’s cap space issue and backcourt log jam to best utilize the talent drafted over the last couple of seasons.

Posted in NBA and tagged , , , , , .