San Antonio Spurs: 2017 NBA free agency’s winners and losers

By Rob Wolkenbrod
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 11: Patty Mills
HOUSTON, TX - MAY 11: Patty Mills
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San Antonio Spurs, HOUSTON, TX – MAY 11: Pau Gasol
San Antonio Spurs, HOUSTON, TX – MAY 11: Pau Gasol

Which San Antonio Spurs players are the biggest winners and losers of NBA free agency?

NBA free agency has pretty much wrapped up for the San Antonio Spurs and the other 29 teams. All the big names are off the market, with a few notable names in restricted free agency (Nerlens Noel, Mason Plumlee, Nikola Mirotic) remaining.

With the Spurs’ time in free agency seemingly done, fans can take a better look at their 2017-18 roster, as well as who should be in line for a bigger role. This goes for a handful of players that were already in place, as their minutes-played may change with the roster additions and subtractions made in the summer.

So, which players are the biggest winners and losers of free agency for the Spurs? Let’s take a look.

CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 21: Dejounte Murray
CLEVELAND, OH – JANUARY 21: Dejounte Murray

Winner: Dejounte Murray

The San Antonio Spurs’ point guard situation is still in question for the 2017-18 season. However, Dejounte Murray should be a beneficiary of the situation, especially with what the Spurs did (and didn’t do) in free agency.

The Spurs were rumored to be in on Chris Paul and Derrick Rose in free agency, but after losing or passing on them, they re-signed Patty Mills and did nothing else at point guard. That should only be a positive for Murray’s playing time in the 2017-18 season.

With the veteran Mills potentially locked in on playing time, that may leave Murray and Derrick White to battle for backup minutes at the position. If the edge is given to NBA experience, then the former should get a longer look as the top point guard option, along with the already-present knowledge of the offense.

Murray should get extra on-court time as Mills’ backup and as long as Tony Parker is out with a torn quad. It will be a big opportunity for the Washington product to prove his long-term future as the Spurs’ point guard.

Next: Kyle Anderson

HOUSTON, TX – MAY 11: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs talks with Kyle Anderson
HOUSTON, TX – MAY 11: Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs talks with Kyle Anderson

Loser: Kyle Anderson

The wing spots saw plenty of change in the offseason for the San Antonio Spurs. Jonathon Simmons left for the Orlando Magic; Rudy Gay signed; Brandon Paul was given a guaranteed deal. Along with Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in place and Manu Ginobili’s return, it clogs up plenty of time at the three spot.

This may not bode well for Kyle Anderson, however, who could have been in line for more playing time in his fourth season.

Anderson only averaged 14.2 minutes per game in 2016-17, which saw him score just 3.4 points and pick up 2.9 rebounds on 44 percent shooting. They’re not overwhelming numbers, even for a role player in this limited action, so it’s maybe not surprising that the Spurs added to the small forward position and stabilized the rotation at shooting guard.

It’s also a contract year for Anderson, who can become a restricted free agent after next season. If he’s regulated to a similar bench spot, it could impact his value and see him lose millions in free agency. A team may not break the bank for someone who flashed some upside, but never put up the eye-popping stats in limited minutes to warrant major cash.

Of course, this could be the year Anderson breaks through and earns more money for himself. He will have trouble getting past Gay, though, whose playing time is in question after arriving during Achilles recovery. Green should man a starting spot, too, and Ginobili won’t disappear from the rotation. Couple that with a look at Paul and an extended audition for Bryn Forbes, and it leaves Anderson in a similar spot to where he was the past three years.

Next: Patty Mills

SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 20: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs talks with Patty Mills
SAN ANTONIO, TX – MAY 20: Head coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs talks with Patty Mills

Winner: Patty Mills

As noted, Mills re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs at the start of NBA free agency. They gave him four years, $50 million to return, a sizeable number for someone who mostly came off the bench for his entire NBA career. However, that may be indicative of what the team will look from him, at least initially.

With Parker sidelined for an indefinite period, that leaves Mills as the most experienced point guard on the roster. White was the only player from outside the organization brought in, but he has no NBA experience and may either sit as the No. 3 point guard or go to the G-League. If so, that only opens the opportunity up for the Aussie guard to be the starter.

When Parker went down in the 2017 playoffs, Mills’ minutes skyrocketed, and the production somewhat did. He had four consecutive double-double point games and maxed out at seven assists in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

Mills will get the chance to build on this and establish himself as a NBA starter in the fall. He’s, by far, the most experienced of the point guard bunch and should have the trust from Gregg Popovich to be a primary distributor.

Next: 25 forgotten players that were on the Spurs

Kawhi Leonard is the only thing that may stand in Mills’ way. If the Spurs choose to go against the grain of the average starting lineup, then they can put the ball in the hands of their best player and let him control the offense. That may leave the Saint Mary’s product in his usual bench role.

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