San Antonio Spurs: Projected Roster Before 2017 NBA Free Agency
By Rob Wolkenbrod
Mar 1, 2017; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich reacts after getting a technical foul during the first half against the Indiana Pacers at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
How the San Antonio Spurs’ roster could look before free agency begins.
The month of July is almost here, which will usher in 2017 NBA free agency. The San Antonio Spurs will join 29 other teams in competing for players who are no longer under contract. It could be those who had their contract expire, opted out of a deal, or had a team decline a player’s option.
The Spurs will potentially target multiple players in free agency. Fans have yet to see who that will include, but at least a handful of players should join the 2017-18 Spurs roster.
How could San Antonio’s roster look for next season? Let’s take a look.
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 could be the last part of those 2000’s Spurs that comes back for the 2017-18 season, unless Manu Ginobili decides to return. Parker will enter his 17th season, at age 35, but is also fighting injuries and a decline in play.
During the NBA playoffs, Parker tore his quad and will miss part of next season. Before that, he averaged a career-low 10.1 points in 63 games, if his rookie season isn’t counted. The 25.2 minutes per game played were the fewest of the Frenchman’s career, though.
Expect Parker to be back for some of next season. How much, though, remains to be seen.
George Hill and San Antonio are interested in a reunion six years after the 2011 NBA Draft trade. This sent Hill to the Indiana Pacers, with the Spurs getting the draft rights to Kawhi Leonard and Davis Bertans. The rest is history.
Hill had the best scoring average of his career in 2017, putting up over 16 points. It came in his one (and maybe only) year with the Utah Jazz, as he’s a free agent.
A Spurs-Hill reunion represents familiarity, as well as someone that can fill in for the injured Parker. The former IUPUI star can also play the two-guard spot in smaller lineups.
2016 first-round pick Dejounte Murray showed promise in his first season with the San Antonio Spurs. He only played 38 regular-season games, but received an extended look in the NBA playoffs, after Parker went down.
Will it mean much for next season, though? The Spurs drafted combo guard Derrick White and could add someone like Hill in free agency. That may regulate Murray to the bench after Parker returns, but before that, the opportunity is there for him to shine.
Next: Shooting Guard
Jan 28, 2017; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes guard Derrick White (21) reacts after a play in the second half against the Oregon Ducks at Coors Events Center. The Buffaloes defeated the Ducks 74-65. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Derrick White is more of a point guard than shooting guard. But, with the NBA using smaller lineups and the potential depth that will be present at the one spot, it may push the 2017 first-round pick to two.
White averaged 18.1 points in his one season with Colorado. It saw him shoot 50 percent from the field and 39 from long distance. So if this translates to the league, then White may be able to go beyond being just a point guard.
Danny Green returning to the San Antonio Spurs is far from certain. He looked like a player that would be traded at the 2017 NBA Draft, but that didn’t become the case.
If the Spurs can’t find a taker, then there’s little harm in having this All-NBA Defensive second team player returning. He may have struggled from the field these past two seasons (shot below 40 percent), but the three-point shooting is still there and he can lock down the opposition’s top sharpshooter.
For most of the 2016-17 season, Bryn Forbes sat on the bench. However, it’s a far cry from him coming in as an undrafted free agent and making the team.
Forbes showed promise near the end of the regular season. He put up 27 points in 29 minutes against the Dallas Mavericks, his only double-digit point total of the year. Could that be built upon next season?
Next: Small Forward
May 7, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) dribbles the ball during the third quarter against the Houston Rockets in game four of the second round of the 2017 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Kawhi Leonard will be back for his seventh season with the San Antonio Spurs. He went from relative unknown from San Diego State in 2011, to one of the best two-way players in 2017.
The latest season saw Leonard earn the superstar title, taking over the mantle of the retired Tim Duncan in the Alamo City. He put up a career-high 25.5 points and 3.8 assists, having respectable or high averages in every other statistical category.
Who Leonard teams with, is unknown. With the rest of the NBA forming superteams, will the Spurs have a star player join him for next season?
Through three seasons, Kyle Anderson flashed improving skills. His shooting percentage rose from 34 to 44, and his three-point shot went from 27 to 37 percent. Along with a solid defensive game, Anderson’s stock is rising.
What doesn’t help Anderson, is Leonard being ahead of him. With that likely being the case for years to come, and the former UCLA product’s contract expiring in 2018, it’s possible this is his final season in San Antonio.
In the meantime, Gregg Popovich can use Anderson as a quality backup, only spelling his star player, when needed. Could his numbers improve, though, with some of the roster uncertainty?
Adam Hanga will join the Spurs for next season, according to News4SanAntonio.com. If so, he only increases the team’s wing depth.
Hanga was selected at No. 59 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft, but stayed overseas in the six years since. There, he developed into one of the best defensive players of the Euroleague and could bring that presence to the Spurs, in a bench role.
Next: Power Forward
May 7, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) walks on the court 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
LaMarcus Aldridge has been the subject of trade rumors for the past few weeks, as he looks for a way out of the San Antonio Spurs organization. It’s unusual to see someone look to leave, but given this is the case, it will make Aldridge the team’s biggest offseason topic.
Despite Aldridge’s recent postseason disappointments and the trade rumors, if no one will take on his 20-plus million deal, then don’t rule out him staying with San Antonio. It doesn’t sound like an ideal situation, but the money and player option for 2018 isn’t appealing, unless another organization feels the investment on the soon-to-be 32-year-old will be worth it.
Aldridge represents a solid compliment to Kawhi Leonard. They combined for over 40 points per game in 2017, and should make for a solid one-two punch in the Western Conference. Would it be enough to top the Golden State Warriors or new-look Houston Rockets, though?
Davis Bertans arrived last season, five years after the Spurs selected him in the 2011 NBA Draft. He stepped into a backup role, playing 67 games and averaging 12.1 minutes.
Bertans put up 4.5 points on 44 percent shooting from the field (39 percent from beyond the arc). His ability as a stretch four should continue to play well into next season, with the numbers potentially climbing.
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
Pau Gasol will be a Spur for the 2017-18 season, as he’s set to opt out of his deal and re-sign for a smaller annual salary. This comes after Gasol signed for two years in 2016, but with the second being a player option.
Gasol had a career-low in minutes (25.4) and points (12.4) in his first season with San Antonio. These numbers may play hand in hand, but at age 36, is this the first sign of a decline?
The former Memphis Grizzlies draft pick should see similar production next season, depending on who the Spurs acquire via free agency and trade. As it stands, there’s little competition for him at center, so we’ll see how he does in Year 2.
In our first roster projection, Willie Reed was part of it, as a free-agent signing. He opted out of his contract with the Miami Heat, to become available in July.
Reed would replace Dewayne Dedmon, who opted out of his deal with the Spurs. He can potentially work on a similar contract to Dedmon, around one or two years for a $3-5 million salary, to become the backup center.
Next: Top 10 Free Agent Targets for the Spurs
Who could be part of the San Antonio Spurs’ roster after free agency?