The San Antonio Spurs might have filled their roster, so let’s evaluate everything done so far.
It’s only 11 days into free agency, but the San Antonio Spurs have accomplished a handful of moves to change their roster or keep it intact. That includes new contracts for the same players and the acquisition of a new face or two.
The offseason is hardly over, however, and Kawhi Leonard still remains on the roster; that’s a bigger task to pull off than anything else so far. There appears to be no timetable on a trade.
Roster moves have been made, though, so there’s plenty to look at from San Antonio’s perspective. How does their offseason grade out so far? Let’s take a look:
Aside from the rookies, Marco Belinelli is the only new face to join the San Antonio Spurs this summer, on a two-year, $12 million deal. Technically, it’s not even a fresh addition, as Belinelli spent two seasons in the Alamo City, including on the 2014 team that won the NBA Finals.
Belinelli brings his 6-foot-5 size to the shooting guard position, and maybe, the wing spot in undersized lineups. He had a 49.5 shooting percentage and 38.5 percent from 3-point range after a mid-season trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, and helped push them to the second round of the playoffs; those numbers were among his best ever, including 13.6 points per game.
At 32 years old, Belinelli should have plenty left in the tank, but those stats might not be what Spurs fans see, at least from an efficiency standpoint. His career shooting percentage is 42.7, while he hits 37.7 percent from beyond the arc. So it’s fair to expect the Philadelphia numbers to tail off.
The Spurs need the outside-shooting help, however, after a season that saw them finish 26th in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (35.2 percent). The teams that finished 24th and 27th-30th all did not make the playoffs.
Belinelli should see about 20 minutes per game for the Spurs, to add a veteran presence to their young guard group. It’s a potential replacement for Manu Ginobili, if he retires, as well. If not, this is a crowded group that will make way for the Italian guard, given what the organization decided to pay for him.
Next: Rudy Gay
Days before free agency opened, Rudy Gay opted out of his contract with the San Antonio Spurs, which would have paid him $8.8 million. Instead, he received a raise to $10 million and for one season. That allows him to return to the open market in what should be an active 2019 period.
Gay’s return brings stability to the Spurs’ group of forwards, which will probably lose Kawhi Leonard and already saw Kyle Anderson depart. It was already a thin group, with Davis Bertans able to fill in at the three and four, while LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol handle the main frontcourt spots. The UConn product can back up either of the forward positions, though, and play alongside Aldridge or Gasol in an undersized frontcourt.
This versatility was on display at times in the 2017-18 season and the postseason, which gave the Spurs a much-needed scoring piece in a lineup that had trouble with buckets. For 2018-19, that may turn into a starting spot, but only if Leonard leaves.
$10 million for a starter at small or power forward, especially one who will be a No. 2 or 3 scorer is fine, especially for how the Spurs managed it last season, without Leonard around. The Silver and Black secured this deal just minutes into free agency, too, and retained some positive stability in a wild offseason.
Next: Bryn Forbes
The San Antonio Spurs opted not to retain Kyle Anderson on an offer sheet from the Memphis Grizzlies, but they did re-sign another restricted free agent, Bryn Forbes, to a two-year deal. Financial details were not added.
Forbes improved on his rookie season, finding his footing in San Antonio’s rotation and becoming a decent 3-point shooter for them. Outside of that, he had problems on the defensive end and actually saw his shooting tail off in the latter half of the season.
While some upside as a bench scorer remains in Forbes, he joins a crowded backcourt, even without Tony Parker. There will be potential minutes battles with Marco Belinelli, Manu Ginobili, Brandon Paul, Lonnie Walker IV and Derrick White. Patty Mills, as well, since he played off the ball often.
The only way adding another guard to this bunch makes sense is if Ginobili plans to retire, the Spurs release Paul and his non-guaranteed deal, or Walker starts the season in the G League. Maybe two of these.
Forbes’ contractual details are still needed before this can receive a full evaluation. Either way, it’s still somewhat questionable with the depth already at hand.
Next: Davis Bertans
The Davis Bertans deal might be the most interesting of the bench, as the San Antonio Spurs gave him two years, $14.5 million. It’s an average annual value of $7.25 million, a significant raise for a player that bounced in and out of consistent minutes, but also stayed durable with 77 games played amidst a plethora of team injuries.
Still, Bertans is a stretch four that’s mostly resorted to outside shooting, with a career 38.4-percent mark. There’s some defensive value, even if it’s not much, that a 106 Defensive Rating shows. Though, it’s still a decent amount of money for a one trick role player at this stage of his career.
Why did the Spurs give this commitment? It’s potentially due to a lack of depth, in size, behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. Bertans is not the below-the-rim rebounder that either player is, but he did spell Gasol in the starting lineup for a small stretch last season. Does San Antonio see more upside down that avenue?
If not that, as noted, the team’s 3-point shooting was in the bottom five of the NBA. Bertans’ return ensures that some of it at least stays, as he acted as one of the team’s best outside shooters. Plus, it’s someone with size that can provide mismatches for bigger defenders.
So, there’s some good and bad for the return of Bertans. How much he improves, if at all, will determine the success of this contract. If not, fans know what to expect, given how nearly identical his numbers were from rookie to sophomore year.