Right now the Spurs have 11 fully-guaranteed contracts lined-up for the season that is upon us. Then there are three contracts that have varying degrees of guarantees in them (Gee, Temple, Jerrells), and one of those just might be on the way out.What that tells me is that the “end of the bench” is anyone’s to earn.
There are eighteen bodies in training camp right now, so it’s a lock that at least three players end up elsewhere, whether it be on the Toros, another NBA or D-league team, Europe, or bagging groceries at HEB. As I hinted above, one of those players is most likely bound for Serbia, that being Curtis Jerrells, and I wish him well. He was probably an odd man out anyway.
Looking at the 11 players with guarantees and extrapolating the needs of the Spurs from there tells me that this is what they need: a back-up small forward they can trust, a third point guard, some additional height, defensive energy, and some players with positional flexibility.
I think Bobby Simmons comes in to be the back-up small forward, but I don’t think he plays a ton of minutes as I see Manu, Tony, and George getting their fair share of time together this season. If he can pick up about 12-15 solid minutes and be available if RJ goes down then I think he’s well worth the cheap price the Spurs would have to pay to retain his services.
The remaining three spots should go to Temple, Gee, and Gist. Their youth, positional flexibility, and energy are too much to pass up at the prices they command. They won’t get much playing time with the Spurs, so I suspect that they will rotate through Austin based on need and performance when with the team.
So without further ado, I give you my prediction for the opening day roster:
Tony Parker, George Hill, Garrett Temple
Manu Ginobili, Gary Neal, James Anderson
Richard Jefferson, Bobby Simmons, Alonzo Gee
Tim Duncan, Dejaun Blair, James Gist
Antonio McDyess, Tiago Splitter, Matt Bonner
I wouldn’t expect for the order I’ve listed above to reflect the true depth chart as I know that Pop is going to play around with line-ups and rotations until the Rodeo Road Trip or later, but I do expect those players to be the ones holding contracts with the Spurs.
As for Kirk Penney and Marcus Cousins, the Spurs will do their best to have them sent to Austin so that they can keep an eye on them, but there’s no guarantee that they will make it back up to the Show.