San Antonio Spurs Free Agency

San Antonio Spurs: Was the 2017 offseason a failure?

By Rob Wolkenbrod
SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 10: Patty Mills
SAN ANTONIO, TX - APRIL 10: Patty Mills
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Was the 2017 offseason actually a failure for the San Antonio Spurs?

The 2017 offseason was hardly flashy for the San Antonio Spurs. Signing Rudy Gay, Joffrey Lauvergne and Brandon Paul to counter what other teams did, isn’t going to draw media-wide praise. Chris Paul, Gordon Hayward and Paul George switching teams will, which became the case in the summer.

The Spurs’ offseason wasn’t looked highly upon by many. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports gave the team a D and cited Pau Gasol’s new contract and losing out on Paul to the Houston Rockets. CBS Sports gave a slightly higher grade at B-, with a mention of the team’s decision to stand pat as neither a good or bad thing. Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com also predicted the Spurs to finish third in the Western Conference, an offseason of their’s he called “head-scratching.”

San Antonio’s offseason wasn’t loved, but that doesn’t mean it failed.

Re-signing Patty Mills looked like the alternate plan to signing CP3, no matter how close or far they were from signing the latter. Mills isn’t a big name and never started more than 10 games in an NBA season, so relying on him while Tony Parker declines, will get a few head scratches. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are his backups, both of whom combine for less than half a season’s worth of experience.

Mills flashed upside as a starter in the Houston playoff series, when he four consecutive games of double-digit points and three of at least four assists. The Western Conference Finals was a struggle, however, as he shot just 24 percent against the Golden State Warriors. If he’s going to become the full-time starter at point guard, then stepping up against the likely roadblock in the Western Conference is necessary.

Understandably so, if Rudy Gay never blew out his Achilles in January, giving him two years, $17.2 million would look like a free-agency steal. He consistently put up between 17-23 points in his 11-year NBA career for three teams, so there was plenty to like. If the Achilles slows him down, then it will be difficult to maximize any potential he may have in the Spurs’ rotation.

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However, what the organization may be banking on is Gay’s potential versatility. That’s not a word often attached to this player, a prototypical small forward. If the Spurs try more small ball lineups, he could stick as a stretch four and provide outside shooting.

If not that, then the Spurs can stick Gay at small forward as Kawhi Leonard’s backup or if the latter gets pushed to the two spot. So the lineup can be toyed with, even if it doesn’t look eye-popping.

Joffrey Lauvergne as San Antonio’s only backup big man is a concern. He never showed the ability to block shots in the NBA and won’t be the presence Dewayne Dedmon was. There’s more offensive potential for Lauvergne to stand out, which may be why the Spurs signed him. But, on a team that has offensive weapons at center (Pau Gasol) and power forward (LaMarcus Aldridge), was more of the same needed?

The biggest question surrounds Brandon Paul, who the Spurs gave a fully guaranteed contract for the 2017-18 season. He has no regular season experience in the NBA, with the exception of time in the D-League and Summer League. At only $800K, Paul is a cheap replacement for the outgoing Jonathon Simmons. He displayed 3-point shooting and fine defense in the Euroleague, but it’s hardly a guarantee this translates.

Next: Predicting the Spurs power forward rotation

So, there are things to like with the Spurs’ offseason, but others to question. Given the team’s track record for the past 20 years, it’s hard to argue with anything they do. Until a chunk of games is played in the 2017-18 season, let’s reserve full judgment for another day.

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