San Antonio Spurs: 5 offseason rumors that never developed
By Rob Wolkenbrod
Rumors floated around the San Antonio Spurs’ offseason that never became more than just that.
The San Antonio Spurs stayed active in the first part of July. They re-signed Patty Mills, made a free agent signing with Rudy Gay, and brought in players like Joffrey Lauvergne and Brandon Paul to the 2017-18 roster.
Aside from them, the Spurs were in the rumor mill early and often this offseason. Like many teams, these reports never developed into anything more than the rumors they started off as.
NBA rumors often come from sources like ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Brian Windhorst, Ramona Shelburne, or Yahoo’s Shams Charania. These spark speculation about the status of a player or a potential acquisition.
Sometimes, these rumors lead to a series of events that transpire, officially. This includes the flurry of Paul George reports that resulted in the trade to the Oklahoma City Thunder. It goes for a contract extension like James Harden’s, too, which was made official earlier this offseason.
However, there were rumors that never came off the ground. This included the brief Kristaps Porzingis sweepstakes at the NBA Draft. How true it was may never be known, as Phil Jackson was relieved of his duties a short time later.
As for the Spurs, a handful of their rumors never became more than this. That goes for trades and free agency. What about the reports from the NBA Draft? How about earlier in free agency?
Let’s look into some of the biggest Spurs rumors of the offseason that never developed.
Next: Kyle Korver signs
5. Derrick Rose signs
At the beginning of the NBA offseason, the San Antonio Spurs were rumored to have interest in Derrick Rose. It was one of the first point guards they were tied to, as youth and a long-term injury to Tony Parker clouded the position and left it with some uncertainty. This came before Patty Mills re-signed, as well.
Rose’s name didn’t pop up with the Spurs for multiple weeks afterward, as the organization passed on signing him. The 2011 NBA MVP actually reached out to San Antonio, but neither they or any top Western Conference team was willing to bring him in.
Rose recently signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers, as he received a one-year, $2.1 million deal. It’s a far from the $20-plus million he received in the last year of his contract in the 2016-17 season, but allows him to step into a winning situation in Cleveland.
If Kyrie Irving departs, then the Memphis product may get the chance to start at point guard, so it could work out in his favor on a contender. Injury concerns will be there, potentially making the Cavs not rely on him as much as teams have in the past.
Let’s see if the Spurs regret their pass on Rose. It wasn’t the only point guard they were connected to, as well.
Next: George Hill returns
4. George Hill’s return to San Antonio
For a while, it looked like the George Hill-San Antonio Spurs reunion would come true. He played the first three seasons of his career under Gregg Popovich, before getting moved to the Indiana in the 2011 draft-day trade that brought back Kawhi Leonard with the No. 15 overall pick. So, it’s difficult to say this deal didn’t work out for the Silver and Black.
Well, nothing ever happened with the Spurs and Hill. Talks stalled between the two sides, and nothing was heard about negotiations again.
Hill signed a three-year, $57 million deal with the Sacramento Kings. The third season is partially guaranteed for $1 million of the $18 million owed to him, so this could turn into a two-year contract.
The Spurs passed on Hill after Mills already re-signed, so it seemed they were interested in another higher-profile guard for the rotation. The nine-year pro had the ability to play shooting guard, so that could be why the team still desired to bring him in. They drafted Derrick White, signed Brandon Paul and re-signed Manu Ginobili to build and solidify the guard spots.
Hill should get the opportunity to thrive in Sacramento while making the highest salary ($20 million) of his career. Will the Spurs regret that things never came together?
Next: Danny Green trade
3. Danny Green to the Cavaliers
Around the time of the 2017 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs shopped Danny Green for trade. The only team that ever popped up as a suitor was the Cleveland Cavaliers, well before they re-signed Kyle Korver and gave Cedi Osman a contract.
Green would have gone to the Cavs on his $10 million salary, which will be the same amount due to him in the 2018-19 season if he exercises his player option. This likely takes away Korver re-signing, as he received a shade over $7 million per season for three years.
By trading Green, the Spurs would have opened more cap flexibility for bigger signings. That could have cleared a path for George Hill to sign for the money he received from the Kings, or one of the available shooting guards signing a deal with San Antonio.
Green would have been risky for the Cavs to take on. His $10 million salary could look like too much after next season, especially with a value that comes from 3-point shooting and lockdown perimter defense. If one of those two attributes fall off, then it would look like a bad contract that he opts into for the final year of the deal.
For now, Green remains a Spur, and the longer the offseason goes, the more likely it will stay this way.
Next: LaMarcus Aldridge trade
2. LaMarcus Aldridge trade
Perhaps the biggest San Antonio Spurs trade rumor of the offseason developed around the same time as the Danny Green talks. It focused on LaMarcus Aldridge who became the subject of trade talks, as he was disgruntled and wanted out of San Antonio.
This looked like it would be a focus of the Spurs offseason, but ended up lasting just a few days. It stopped when team executive RC Buford addressed the rumors in the media and said, “we’re happy with the group we have.”
Buford on Aldridge 'unhappy' rumors: "We're happy with the group we have."
Said Aldridge is part of SA winning 128 games, getting to WCF.
— Paul Garcia (@PaulGarciaNBA) June 23, 2017
After that, the Aldridge rumors never sprang up again. Not in the days after the NBA Draft and after free agency began.
It could be difficult for the Spurs to trade Aldridge. He’s owed $21 million next season and has a $22 million player option for the 2018-19 season. Either he plays great, opts out and becomes a one-year rental or continues the disappointing play from the Western Conference Finals and opts into a $22 million salary as a 33-year-old. There’s still value for the player that averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in the 2016-17 season, but it’s arguably lower than ever.
Maybe the Spurs trade Aldridge before the season or find a taker early on. However, with the way his contract looks, expect him to stay on the roster.
Next: Chris Paul signs
1. Chris Paul signs
To kick off the NBA offseason, the San Antonio Spurs apparently became a top option of Chris Paul’s, who had the ability to terminate his contract with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Spurs would have needed to make multiple roster adjustments, but this had the chance to be the ultimate point guard option for the Spurs, as they faced uncertainty there.
A few weeks later, Paul exercised the last year of his contract and had the Clippers send him to the Houston Rockets for a package of players. He considered the Spurs, but was turned off by the issues with LaMarcus Aldridge which arose around the time of the deal.
Paul will now team with 2017 MVP runner-up James Harden in the same state as the Spurs. It will make for a fascinating season-long battle of top teams battling for positioning in the Western Conference, making for high-point affairs and some of the most exciting basketball games of the year. This could lead to a playoff series, too, next spring.
Next: Top 10 first-round picks in Spurs history
The Spurs can’t regret a move that wasn’t their decision, but if they signed Paul, things could have looked different for the team. CP3 is the All-Star player that would have teamed with Kawhi Leonard for a dynamic 1-2 punch, identical to what the Rockets have with Harden. Will they overwhelm San Antonio next season?