San Antonio Spurs: 3 way-too-early storylines for 2018 offseason
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The 2017 NBA offseason isn’t close to being over, but there are some things to look forward to for the San Antonio Spurs in 2018.
The San Antonio Spurs haven’t as busy as the rest of the NBA, but still made a handful of moves. They re-signed Patty Mills, signed Rudy Gay and brought in Joffrey Lauvergne. These pieces will join a 60-plus win team that will look to make a greater mark on the Western Conference.
However, in the NBA, the next offseason is always anticipated. It’s about where the big names will go next, if their respective teams will give them contract extensions, and if it’s enough to compete for the NBA championship.
The Spurs will be in the mix, with an unknown direction after the 2017-18 season. It’s one year away, but what could there be to look forward to?
3. Where will the point guard position be?
As of July 2017, the point guard situation is in flux. Tony Parker is recovering from a torn quadriceps, which may keep him out for most of the 2017-18 season; Patty Mills is back on a four-year, $50 million deal; Dejounte Murray will enter his second year in the NBA; Derrick White has the ability to play point guard, too. If anything, all four could split time at the one spot.
When Parker returns in early 2018, he should scoop up at least 20-25 of the available minutes. Mills could get around 20 minutes as well, receiving time between point and shooting guard.
Where the point guard position goes may be in the hands of Murray and White’s development, however. Especially for the former. Their progression will be vital with all the cap room the San Antonio Spurs have, if there’s a thought of considering a higher profile point guard option.
Given the young investment in this position, one of Murray or White should be the long-term answer, at least for the next 1-2 years to split time with Parker (if the Spurs re-sign him after next season). If the Western Conference Arms Race continues into 2018, then maybe San Antonio goes for an outside option.
Next: LaMarcus Aldridge
2. LaMarcus Aldridge’s status
This offseason had the potential to be a whirlwind for the San Antonio Spurs. LaMarcus Aldridge was on the trade block at the 2017 NBA Draft, which R.C. Buford said the star power forward is part of the team’s future.
However, that future may last for one more season.
After the 2017-18 campaign, Aldridge has a player option worth approximately $22 million for 2018-19. With the NBA salary cap rising and this potential unhappiness in San Antonio, could the upcoming season be his last?
Aldridge should still be a No. 2 contributor to Kawhi Leonard, posting 16-20 points per game with 7-9 rebounds. He’ll man the power forward position and try to boost his stock for his final, potential big payday (Aldridge will be age 32 by the 2018 offseason).
If Aldridge leaves after a productive season, then the Spurs will be on the hunt for the wingman to Leonard. As of now, they don’t have this, unless someone develops in the 2017-18 season. Rudy Gay has the potential to be this, but after an Achilles injury, will it hurt his performance?
Losing Aldridge would shed plenty of cap space for the Spurs, but also leave them with the task of adding a star to the roster. He’s not the only name leaving, however, for next offseason.
Next: Cap space
1. All the available cap space
The San Antonio Spurs didn’t walk into this offseason with much cap space. With what they had, it got used on Patty Mills, the Mid-Level Exception on Rudy Gay, the minimum on Joffrey Lauvergen, and a yet-to-be-determined contract for Pau Gasol.
For 2018, that will be different. If anything, the polar opposite of what was seen this summer.
If the player options are factored in, these are the players, and their salaries, that will be off the table for next season:
- LaMarcus Aldridge ($21 million)
- Tony Parker ($15.5 million)
- Danny Green ($10 million)
- Rudy Gay ($8.4 million)
- Kyle Anderson ($2.1 million)
- Bryn Forbes ($1.3 million)
- David Bertans ($1.3 million)
Anderson and Bertans will reach restricted free agent status next offseason, which will risk the Spurs losing both players. They can match any offer received, and will have more than enough money to do so.
The main story is the potential money off the books, with Aldridge, Parker, and Green gone. Along with Aldridge, Green has a player option, so it’s possible this $30-plus million won’t even be there for the Spurs.
If it is, there are multiple big names the Spurs can pursue. From DeMarcus Cousins to Chris Paul (if he doesn’t sign an extension in Houston), Isaiah Thomas, DeAndre Jordan and Joel Embiid — a potential underrated target since despite him missing two seasons, signed a four-year contract in 2014. It expires after next season.
Next: Top 10 first-round picks in Spurs history
Will the Spurs use the available cash to chase a big name? Maybe so, but it depends if it’s even available next offseason.