May 7, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich talks with media before game four of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The San Antonio Spurs have a long way to go until the 2017-18 season, so here’s a way-too-early prediction on the team’s roster before the NBA Draft.
On Thursday night, the San Antonio Spurs will add to the 2017-18 roster during the NBA Draft. They hold the No. 29 and 59 picks in Round 1 and 2, respectively, both of which could impact the immediate future of the franchise.
The Spurs roster will take shape after the draft, with free agency starting in July. This may be the bigger opportunity for the team to add to next fall’s roster, including filling holes at positions of need.
With plenty not set in stone for San Antonio in the 2017-18 season, let’s take a look at how the roster could look. This includes players already under contract, potential draft picks and free agents.
Feb 10, 2017; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker (9) celebrates during the second quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Tony Parker is a sure bet to be back on the roster, having one year left on his contract. However, Parker will miss the first half of the season, with a quad injury he suffered in the NBA playoffs.
The Spurs will have him for the critical stretch of the season and the playoffs, but before that, they may need to add someone else at point guard. Parker’s injury could keep him out longer than January, so any type of added insurance is warranted.
Dejounte Murray joined the Spurs as the No. 29 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He showed promise in his rookie season, getting a few opportunities to start regular season games. Murray even received an extended look in the playoffs, getting time after Parker went down.
Depending on what San Antonio does in the offseason, Murray could open the season as the starting point guard. Would they leave the job in the hands of a player as young as him, though?
Patty Mills is set to be a free agent, so he’s no guarantee to return. If Mills does come back, his role would likely increase in the fall.
Mills should be a priority to re-sign, unless a team blows the Spurs out of the water with an offer. He can split minutes with Murray and be the scoring presence the team needs, off the bench.
Next: Shooting Guard
Mar 21, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Danny Green (14) dribbles in the third quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves forward Brandon Rush (4) at Target Center. The San Antonio Spurs beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-93. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Danny Green should be back as the team’s starting shooting guard. He’s entering the last year of his contract, with a player option for the 2018-19 season. However, given the rising contracts of the NBA, look for Green to opt out of his deal.
Green will provide steady minutes for the Spurs, despite seeing a decrease in points per game since his 2014-15 campaign (11.7 PPG). He only shot 39 percent last season, too, so hopefully, for the team, this rises to how it looked earlier in his career.
Josh Hart is a player we’ve projected to the Spurs before and will keep the same for this. It would be the team’s pick at No. 29 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Hart can play a backup role or at least an end-of-the-bench presence. If his defense translates to the NBA, he should get decent minutes in his rookie season. Let’s first see if the former Villanova star will be the pick on Thursday night.
Bryn Forbes only played in 36 games for the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 2.6 points per game and shooting 32 percent from beyond the arc. Not special numbers or ones that certainly warrant Forbes returning, but he’s under contract for one more season.
Forbes can play a role at the end of the bench, potentially as the 12th or 13th man. He won’t play every night, but can provide minutes as the third-string shooting guard or if someone gets hurt.
Next: Small Forward
Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) in action against the Los Angeles Clippers during the third quarter at Staples Center. The San Antonio Spurs won 105-97. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Well, this is a no-brainer. Kawhi Leonard is locked in as the starting small forward and is now a perennial MVP candidate (he’s up for the 2016-17 award.). He looked like a star last season, averaging 25.5 points per game, a four-point rise from his 2015-16 mark.
Leonard’s 2017-18 season should be no different. He may even see an increase in stats, based off what’s happened in his first six seasons in the NBA. Bigger things should be in store, as the former 2011 pick continues to establish himself.
Kyle Anderson hasn’t turned into a starting-caliber player for the Spurs yet. However, he’s proven to be an effective role player through three seasons.
Anderson should be back as a defensive stopper for the Spurs. He can also backup Leonard and provide around 15-20 minutes per game in this role.
Adam Hanga is a bit of an unknown, as he’s expected to join the Spurs next season. The organization selected Hanga in Round 2 of the 2011 NBA Draft, and will likely see what he can do on an NBA court, for the first time.
Hanga could fill the role of Jonathon Simmons, who’s an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He looked like a top-notch defender in the Euroleague, can grab a rebound or two when necessary, and move up and down the court with above-average athleticism. Look for him to be part of the rotation.
Next: Power Forward
Feb 24, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) in action against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second quarter at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
LaMarcus Aldridge hasn’t been fantastic for the San Antonio Spurs since signing in the 2015 offseason. He still remains as the team’s second best player, though, and barring an offseason move, he should be back as the team’s starting power forward.
Aldridge is potentially entering the final season of his deal with San Antonio. He can opt out after 2017-18 and become a free agent, so this may be the final ride for the former Texas Longhorn in the Alamo City. Will the Spurs look to trade him before then?
Five years after the Spurs selected Davis Bertans (they traded for him in the Kawhi Leonard deal) in the 2011 NBA Draft, he joined the team. Gregg Popovich used Bertans often, too, putting him in, in 67 games, six of which were starts. The Latvian forward averaged 4.5 points, 1.5 rebounds and shot 39 percent from beyond the arc.
A bigger role could be in store for Bertans next season, depending on how much he progresses. Right now, he looks like a stretch four that can come off the bench and spell Aldridge.
May 7, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol (16) reacts in game four of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
After some speculation about Pau Gasol’s status for next season, he’ll be back. Gasol will decline his player option, but re-sign for lesser money, opening up cap space for the team to use in free agency and trades.
Gasol’s numbers dipped last season, putting up a career-low in points, at just over 12 points per game. It also came with a low in minutes of around 25, so either Popovich tried resting the Spanish big man, he’s declining as a player, or both. Either way, there should be a part-time starter/backup role for him next season.
Willie Reed is a free agent from the Miami Heat, who played a fair amount as a backup center to Hassan Whiteside. The Spurs could look to sign Reed to replace Dewayne Dedmon, who opted out of his contract to become a free agent.
Reed averaged 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds in his lone season with the Heat. He provided a decent presence as a rim protector, too — despite not being overpowering at 6-foot-10 — with 0.7 blocks in just over 14 minutes per game (1.6 per 36 minutes and 2.5 in 2015-16).