If the San Antonio Spurs lose Manu Ginobili to retirement, who could be signed to replace him in free agency?
The San Antonio Spurs could lose Manu Ginobili to retirement. He’s yet to make a decision on his 2017-18 season status, so it somewhat leaves a bench spot up for grabs for the team. If Ginobili does leave, he can be replaced in free agency.
So far, the Spurs only signed Rudy Gay, a small forward who could be in the starting lineup. With multiple bench pieces still on the open market (Dewayne Dedmon, David Lee, Joel Anthony, Jonathon Simmons), there’s room for San Antonio to spend on a guard to hit shots from the pine.
There aren’t too many marquee names left, but some fall under the category of players the organization can afford. Who does this include?
3. Tony Allen
Tony Allen used to be one of the most feared defensive guards in the NBA. He could lock down any team’s top shooter, being good enough to start games despite a poor shooting ability.
At age 35, the time is running out for Allen. He still played a career-high 27 minutes per game in the 2016-17 season, but his legs will slow down and cause him to lose effectiveness on the defensive end. However, for the remaining skill he has, along with veteran leadership, this would be an intriguing pickup for the San Antonio Spurs.
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Allen would take a reduced role with the Spurs, something he hasn’t had since the Boston Celtics, in their championship years. He would be a low-cost alternative for the potential departure of Jonathon Simmons, who’s athletic and a terrific defender, but may get paid more than San Antonio can match in free agency.
With the Spurs roster getting younger, with players like Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, Kyle Anderson, and Davis Bertans all on the roster, having an extra leader join the team to mentor these players would be a plus, too. That may go for the guards of that group more than anything.
Allen won’t be a scoring option for the Spurs, but he can help in other facets of the game. It may even be one of his last chances at getting a title opportunity as well.
Next: Arron Afflalo
2. Arron Afflalo
Losing Manu Ginobili would leave the San Antonio Spurs without a bench scorer. At this point in Arron Afflalo’s career, he could fill this role despite being a starter for most of his time in the NBA.
Afflalo is still a consistent shooter. He’s coming off a 41 percent average from beyond the arc, which was his highest mark since the 2013-14 season. However, the point average of 8.4 was his lowest since 2009-10, along with the minute total never hitting below 26 per game since 2008-09.
Through these low numbers, Afflalo received a $12 million salary from the Sacramento Kings in 2016-17, his highest money total of his career. That likely won’t happen next season, especially with all the cash that’s disappeared from the 2017 free agent market.
If Afflalo’s price is low, he could be an option for the Spurs at the veteran minimum. It would be enough to save money for Pau Gasol re-signing, while other targeting a big man from the open market.
Aside from the minor contract, Afflalo would fill in a shooting role off the bench, maybe as the eighth or ninth man. He’s still sharp from the field and would space the floor. However, if the Spurs can re-sign a wing free agent of their own, then the UCLA product won’t be in the mix.
Next: Jonathon Simmons
1. Jonathon Simmons
Jonathon Simmons is still a restricted free agent, so the San Antonio Spurs can match any offer he receives. So far, Simmons hasn’t officially signed an offer sheet, meaning his rights still belong to the organization unless they renounce them.
Simmons is the best option remaining for the Spurs at shooting guard, especially if Ginobili retires. He’s not a big scoring threat, but could take a bigger role on the bench. That may go from 18 minutes per game to somewhere between 20 and 25, especially with a bigger contract possibly on the way.
Might Simmons develop into a better shooter? Maybe. He took 102 3-pointers last season, making just 30 of them. As the Houston product continues rounding out his game, even at age 27, what if he develops a better outside stroke to compliment his defensive work?
If the Spurs let Simmons go, it would be hard to replace him. Tony Allen is an option, but an older version of what Simmons provides. Afflalo’s game trends toward the offensive side of the ball, too, so he wouldn’t be the two-way threat the former semi-pro player has the potential of being.
If Ginobili retires, who should the Spurs use to replace him from free agency? Could the option even come from within the organization?