Spurs offseasons revisited: 2017 free agency
By Rob Wolkenbrod
A look back at the San Antonio Spurs’ 2017 offseason of free agency and trades.
The 2018 offseason has proven to be one of the most interesting in San Antonio Spurs history. Rarely have previous ones included blockbuster trades or free agent signings, but July provided the latter and sent everything into chaos, when Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green went to the Toronto Raptors.
Do past years’ offseasons even compare to this, though? Let’s look back at old Spurs offseasons, starting with 2017’s acquisitions. There were no trades involved in their summer cycle of moves.
Signing Joffrey Lauvergne
The San Antonio Spurs lost Dewayne Dedmon in free agency and saw David Lee retire, leaving minimal big-man depth behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol. So, the organization turned towards Joffrey Lauvergne, a journeyman center who never found a role beyond a backup.
More from Spurs News
- Spurs show remarkable poise against Bulls, unlike many fans
- Devin Vassell is the latest in the Spurs’ collection of silent assassins
- San Antonio Spurs: 5 Players to avoid in any LaMarcus Aldridge deal
- Is Gregg Popovich hiding Luka Samanic as a secret weapon?
- San Antonio Spurs News: More DeRozan trade talk from Chris Haynes
San Antonio gave Lauvergne a two-year deal, with the second season as a player option. He slotted into a backup role off the bench, but never found his groove, averaging a career-low 9.7 minutes per game for 4.1 points and 3.1 rebounds. Injuries contributed to this and lineup changes throughout the season, including Aldridge at center and Davis Bertans in the starting lineup.
Despite the struggles, Lauvergne opted out of his contract and signed with Fenerbache overseas. It ended his one-year term in the Alamo City and opened an era for Jakob Poeltl. While contributions were provided in spurts, this did not result in overwhelming results.
Whether Lauvergne ever returns to the NBA remains to be seen. He has an opportunity overseas, potentially the best opportunity for him to flourish, long-term.
Next: Brandon Paul
Signing Brandon Paul
Brandon Paul was the surprise signing of the offseason, as the Spurs pulled him out of the 2017 Summer League and gave him a guaranteed contract; it was just for year one, as the second season would not guarantee until Aug. 1. 2018. More on that shortly.
Paul had the chance to earn a rotation spot, and it was there, initially. Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker‘s season-opening injuries opened opportunities for players off the bench, and the Illinois product earned some type as a backup shooting guard.
Only one standout game happened along the way, however, as Paul put up 18 points against the Boston Celtics in a late-October game. After that, Parker returned, Leonard briefly came back and Bryn Forbes took over one of the main reserve roles.
For the rest of the season, Paul struggled to find meaningful minutes, unless the Spurs rested players on a back-to-back. Otherwise he appeared in garbage time and did not play a role towards their latest playoff appearance.
On Tuesday, San Antonio chose not to bring Paul back. Not a big surprise after limited playing time and just 2.3 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. He still provided contributions, but not enough for the organization to pay him for another season.
Next: Rudy Gay
Signing Rudy Gay
The prize of the San Antonio Spurs’ 2017 offseason, Rudy Gay joined on a two-year, $17 million deal with the second season as a player option. It was a “prove-it” contract for the UConn product, who was six months off a ruptured Achilles tendon with the Sacramento Kings.
Gay, initially expected to play behind Kawhi Leonard, stuck in a sixth man role for the 2017-18 season. This led to 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game on 47.1 percent shooting.
Without headline scorers behind LaMarcus Aldridge, Gay was thrust into a main role; maybe too soon for someone off a devastating injury. He played well, but not up to the Memphis Grizzlies/Toronto Raptors/Kings standards of the previous decade. It only happened in just over 21 minutes per game, however.
Gay also missed 23 games with a variety of injuries, including a heel ailment that kept him out from late December to after the All-Star break. It limited the Spurs even more on offense, which showed how lacking their scoring assets were behind a revitalized Aldridge.
In year two, after re-signing for a one-year, $10 million deal, Gay can slot deeper into the pecking order, as DeMar DeRozan is in town. Even Marco Belinelli can take some pressure off. Along with a full season removed from the Achilles tear, let’s see how the 12-year man does on another short-term pact.