After the San Antonio Spurs signed Rudy Gay, who could be next in line for a contract?
The San Antonio Spurs brought in Rudy Gay on Thursday night. They gave him two years, $17.2 million on the mid-level exception. It’s their first signing since Patty Mills, who returned on a four-year, $50 million deal on July 1.
With potentially more to come this offseason, the Spurs could turn toward other free agent targets. There are dozens of available players on the open market, but who could make the most sense to sign? Does this include players who formerly played in San Antonio?
Cap space is available for the Spurs to sign other players after Gay, and it begins with an old face.
5. Tiago Splitter
Tiago Splitter played with the San Antonio Spurs from 2010-15, after getting drafted by them in 2007. He was part of the 2014 NBA championship team, played one more season, and then got traded in the 2015 offseason. This was due to the acquisition of LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency, which forced the Spurs to clear cap space.
However, Splitter failed to play a full season in 2016 and 2017. He combined for just 44 games played, during this time, and missed nearly one year with an injury.
At this point, the Spurs may be able to get Splitter on the veteran’s minimum. Anything more would be too much for a career role player, who struggled to stay on the court the past two seasons.
Splitter could spell Pau Gasol or Aldridge at center and power forward, respectively, if the Spurs feel he’s healthy enough to be the second string. If not, he can be an end-of-the-bench piece.
The injury concerns will be there, so Gregg Popovich may not be able to play him for more than 10-15 minutes per game, at least for the first part of the season. If anything, that could be all the time that’s needed for the Brazilian big man to play.
Next: Mike Dunleavy
4. Mike Dunleavy
When 2017 NBA free agency began, Sam Amico of AmicoHoops.net reported that the San Antonio Spurs were interested in Mike Dunleavy. The Atlanta Hawks waived him before July 1.
Dunleavy was once a starter at the wing positions, along with receiving occasional time at power forward. He did this in stints with the Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls. However, the Duke product became a role player over the past two seasons in Atlanta and Cleveland.
On the Spurs, Dunleavy would likely play a similar role. He’s not going to start over Kawhi Leonard or Danny Green, and won’t take over Rudy Gay’s potential sixth man spot. That may leave the 36-year-old as the ninth or tenth man off the bench, as a spot-up 3-point shooter. It’s a role he could thrive in, especially as NBA teams continue to look for ways to space the floor.
Like Splitter, Dunleavy could potentially be had on a veteran’s minimum deal. With their own free agents remaining and cap space that’s declining, the Spurs would be a good fit for him on the payroll and on the court as someone to spread the floor for the young point guards.
Next: Arron Afflalo
3. Arron Afflalo
A somewhat higher profile and younger alternative for a bench scorer, would be Arron Afflalo. He’s formerly of the Sacramento Kings.
Afflalo bounced around for the past four seasons, playing with the Orlando Magic, Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, New York Knicks and the Kings. He started in Denver, Portland and New York, but saw a somewhat diminished role in Sacramento. This included playing 26 minutes per game, the UCLA product’s lowest total since the 2008-09 season. He also put up 8.4 points per game, his lowest mark since the previously mentioned year.
After signing a two-year deal in 2016, the Kings waived Afflalo, so his stock is down for previous seasons. He may no longer be a starter for an upper-level team, but may have to take a backup role on one of the better teams in the NBA.
On the San Antonio Spurs, Affalo could be one of the last bench pieces added. He wouldn’t get 25 minutes per game, but may take up some of the time that Manu Ginobili leaves behind (if he retires). It’s only another player to spread the floor, too,
Afflalo should provide bench scoring wherever he goes. If it’s the Spurs, it would be a good compliment next to Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay.
Next: Dewayne Dedmon
2. Dewayne Dedmon
After signing Rudy Gay, it’s possible the San Antonio Spurs turn back to their own free agents. One of them could be Dewayne Dedmon, although the team hasn’t been rumored to speaking to him about a contract.
Since Dedmon opted out of his 2017-18 season contract, the Spurs have yet to acquire a backup big man. They didn’t do this in the 2017 NBA Draft or the first six days of free agency. Could that be a sign of the organization wanting to bring him back?
Dedmon grew into a quality defensive presence as last season progressed. He started 37 games, averaging 6.5 rebounds and 0.8 blocks, which turned into 13.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in his Per 36 Minutes numbers.
The Spurs already used the mid-level exception on Gay, so that’s out of the question for Dedmon. They would have to dip a little bit more into their cap, after giving him just below $3 million last season. Would that be on a two-year deal, maybe worth $6-10 million per year?
If the Spurs bring Dedmon back, he can play a similar role to this past season, with the potential to start more games as Pau Gasol ages. There’s upside to the USC product’s game, as he could grow into a Tyson Chandler-like big man in the Alamo City.
Next: Jonathon Simmons
1. Jonathon Simmons
Perhaps the top player from the San Antonio Spurs that’s left in free agency, is Jonathon Simmons. However, unlike Dewayne Dedmon, Simmons is a restricted free agent. The Spurs can match any offer he receives.
Through almost one week of free agency, Simmons hasn’t officially received an offer, so there’s nothing for the Spurs to match. That could mean he waits things out or signs his contract tender with the organization, sticking around for at least one more season.
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How likely is Simmons to return, though? Well, Sporting News reported the Spurs will only “match reasonable offers” for this two-year pro. That could be around three years, $30 million.
Simmons grew into a larger bench role this past season. He flashed his athleticism on the defensive end, where he became a lockdown defender on the perimeter on two 60-win teams.
A bench role would be possible with the Spurs, although it may not increase with the Rudy Gay acquisition. That may leave Simmons with 15-20 minutes per game again, something he could get more of in another situation. It remains to be seen who that team is, though, but the New York Knicks did previously show interest.
Who should be a top target after the Gay signing for the San Antonio Spurs?