San Antonio Spurs: 2018 restricted free agents, ranked by potential cost
By Rob Wolkenbrod
The San Antonio Spurs will have three players set to hit restricted free agency this summer. How expensive could they get?
The 2018 offseason, aside from the Kawhi Leonard saga, will be an active one for the San Antonio Spurs. As many as seven players can hit free agency, but six of them will not become unrestricted free agents, at least initially, due to clauses in their respective contracts.
Three players will enter restricted free agency. If one of the other 29 teams offer this type of player a contract (as long as the organization makes a qualifying offer), the Spurs can match it and re-sign the player.
Kyle Anderson, Davis Bertans and Bryn Forbes are the restricted free agents. One might be easier to attain than the other, and it might — or probably — come down to the cost. How expensive could these players get? Let’s take a look.
Potential Cost: $1.5 million
Bryn Forbes starts the restricted free-agent contracts for the San Antonio Spurs. Due to his fewer than three years of service time, his qualifying offer will be about $1.5 million, per a breakdown from Hoops Rumors. That’s a relatively low price for the Spurs who should be able to keep him.
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Forbes improved from his rookie season, after taking back and forth trips to the G League. The numbers were not spectacular but he had a steady 6.9 points on 42 percent shooting and 39 percent from 3-point distance.
The Michigan State product’s game starts and ends behind the arc, however, which limits his open-market value. That’s due to his 6′ 3” frame and a 110 Defensive Rating, the worst number on the Spurs. That did not stop head coach Gregg Popovich from giving the sophomore playing time, since this rotation needed points output in the worst way at times. It never allowed for anything more than an inconsistent bench role, though, with minutes that varied by the game.
Right now, Forbes is a scorer off the bench, as the eighth or ninth man. That does not scream “incoming team is about to make a poison pill offer sheet” but crazier things have happened (i.g. Toronto Raptors giving Landry Fields $18 million over three years to play 107 games and ruined their chance to sign countryman Steve Nash).
$1.5 million for at least one more season of Forbes makes sense, given his improvement and age (24). If the cost goes any higher, then it’s something else to consider.
Next: Davis Bertans
Projected Cost: $1.5 million
A tie between Forbes and Davis Bertans, who can make an identical amount of money from a qualifying offer. There’s a possibility (hardly a guarantee) that this situation muddies itself more than the former, however.
NBA teams love to stretch the floor, which is not a news flash. Attribute that to the Golden State Warriors, as well as the idea of positionless basketball.
When one thinks of positionless basketball, Bertans’s name probably does not come to mind. Yet, at least in a bench role, it should, given his 6′ 10” frame and ability to shoot from 3-point distance (38.4 percent across two seasons), some of which were unconscious performances (11-for-15 shooting, 6-for-9 on 3-pointers for 31 points against the Sacramento Kings on Jan. 8). He can do this as an oversized three, a stretch four or a five.
Why does that matter? It only takes one team, but someone might see Bertans as a valuable player for their bench and view enough upside beyond the defensive questions.
Bertans was not good in the postseason, though. Granted, it happened in five games against the potential 2018 NBA champion Golden State Warriors, but 3.4 points on 16.7 percent shooting in 16.4 minutes won’t cut it and might have impacted his value for an outside offer sheet.
The Spurs should be able to retain Bertans on a one year offer sheet. If not, it’s because a team went out of their way to give him a multi-year deal that was not worth the price.
Next: Kyle Anderson
Projected Cost: 3 years, $21 million
Keeping Kyle Anderson will not come as easy as Bertans or Forbes, and that’s arguably due to the Kawhi Leonard injury which opened an enormous avenue of playing time for the UCLA product.
Anderson started 67 games in the 2017-18 season, by far a career-high, with 7.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and a 52.7 percent field goal mark to show for it. The 33 percent 3-point mark does not stand out, as he only took 57 attempts, but there’s at least some ability, here, to stretch the floor.
Much of Anderson’s value comes via defense, however, with a 101 Defensive Rating this season (100 for his career), 1.6 steals and a 6′ 9” frame that allows him to guard a handful of positions. This versatility even factors into his offensive standing, as a coach can line him up at the three or four.
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Anderson will no doubt receive a qualifying offer from the San Antonio Spurs, but it’s difficult to think someone else does not present a contract. If the organization wants to keep this young core together, as Robby Kalland of UPROXX noted, then it needs to do whatever possible to keep the four-year man in town.
“Anderson isn’t a max player like the three ahead of him on this list, but it would be stunning to see the Spurs let him walk. Anderson’s become a steady, consistent performer for the Spurs and is part of a young core that they need to hang on to as they enter the first summer of relative uncertainty about the future of the franchise in terms of a star player in nearly two decades.”
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Will Anderson receive a blow-away offer? Maybe not, but, like, with Bertans, it takes one team. Due to the 24-year old’s starting experience, statistical improvement, and defensive acumen, though, it would not be a surprise to see someone try to pry him away on a multi-year contract and force San Antonio to pay what they did not want to give Jonathan Simmons in 2017.