The San Antonio Spurs have a strong history of success finding some bargain bin free agents, and they may be employing that strategy again this season.
The San Antonio Spurs dynasty has primarily been built through the draft, but they’ve also done a great job of finding value in free agency while many other teams overpay mediocre players.
The Spurs have never really been in the running for the LeBron James or Kevin Durant‘s of the world, but they’ve often signed aging veterans to good contracts with the most recent success story being Rudy Gay.
San Antonio can’t afford to be in the conversation for some of the big name free agents this summer as they only have the $9-10 million non-taxpayer Mid-Level Exception to use along with their normal allotment of minimum contracts.
If the Spurs decide to split that Mid-Level Exception up among multiple players, they could find some great deals in free agency. Especially at the wing position, where they’ve been pretty thin in recent years.
We’ve taken a look at some of the mid-tier free agent wings and a group of swingmen who could be available for cheap this offseason. Let’s continue that analysis by looking at some more wings who are expected to be pretty affordable this summer:
Next: James Ennis
The Rockets signed James Ennis last offseason hoping he could fill the void left by Trevor Ariza and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
However, they waived him after 40 games even though he was playing well scoring 7.4 points in 23.7 minutes per game with Houston while shooting 36.7% from three on a decent amount of attempts.
Philadelphia happily scooped him up off of waivers after the All-Star Break, and he’s been an important piece of their playoff rotation playing nearly 22 minutes per game this postseason.
Ennis has a $1.8 million player option for next season, but I’m assuming he thinks he can get slightly more than that on the open market as an unrestricted free agent.
The Spurs would be one of those teams that should give Ennis’ agent a call to improve their wing depth.
He’s only 28 years old, and we’ve seen that he can fit in on a postseason contender a couple of different times throughout his career.
I’d like to see San Antonio give him a $3-4 million per year offer if they decide to split up that Mid-Level Exception among multiple players.
Next: Reggie Bullock
Reggie Bullock has been an intriguing player among NBA circles because he shoots the ball exceedingly well from three (39.2% in his career), and he has the tools at 6-foot-7-inches to be a very solid wing defender.
Bullock has never fully realized that defensive potential as he ranked near the bottom of the league in defensive real plus-minus this season, but Gregg Popovich has turned many players’ careers around on that end of the floor within his defensive system and he could do it again with an athletic player like Bullock.
Bullock’s three-point prowess would also be incredibly valuable to a team whose two primary scorers barely shoot any threes at all.
I’d love to see Pop work with Bullock in the Spurs’ player development system, and he could come cheap this summer after his two-year, $5 million contract expired this season.
Next: Wilson Chandler
Wilson Chandler is another player who bounced around a bit this season as he was traded twice within the last calendar year.
However, Chandler still has the tools to be an extremely useful player at 32 years old.
He shot the three-ball at a 39% clip during his 36 games with the Sixers, and Chandler has a big enough frame at 6’9″ and 225 pounds to bang with some of the larger wings in the league.
Chandler’s 11 years of NBA experience would also be appealing to Gregg Popovich, who has shown a propensity to trust veterans over young players throughout his storied coaching career.
Adding Wilson Chandler to a cheap contract would give the Spurs some Rudy Gay insurance if they decide to re-sign him this offseason, and that would come in handy considering Gay’s checkered injury history.
Next: Tyreke Evans
Tyreke Evans is an intriguing free agent because it’s difficult to gauge what his market will be this offseason.
In the summer of 2017, Tyreke signed a one-year, $3.29 million “prove it” contract with the Grizzlies. That paid huge dividends for Evans who scored nearly 20 points per game with 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds for Memphis while maintaining a 56.1% true shooting percentage.
Evans parlayed that strong season into a one-year, $12.4 million contract with Indiana last summer, but that one did not work out as well for the Pacers. Tyreke’s numbers dipped significantly this past season, and he may be looking for another “prove it” deal like the one he signed with the Grizzlies two summers ago.
If Evans is going to get $3-4 million per year, he might be a solid gamble for the Spurs. However, there may be a team that believes in him enough to give him some significant money this offseason.
Tyreke Evans wouldn’t be on the top of my list if I worked in San Antonio’s front office, but he’s an interesting name to keep an eye on as we near the beginning of free agency.
UPDATE: Tyreke Evans has been dismissed from the league for at least two years, so it’s safe to say the Spurs won’t be taking a look at him in free agency.
Next: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
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If the Spurs want to take a gamble on some high pedigree talent that may just need a change of scenery, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should be their man.
The former number two overall pick never lived up to his draft status in Charlotte, and it’s likely that the two sides could part ways after a disappointing start to his career.
However, the Spurs are experts in fixing broken jump shots with the expertise of Chip Engelland on their coaching staff, and that’s all MKG needs to be a productive player in this league.
Kidd-Gilchrist has been a strong defender when he’s been given playing time (15th among small forwards in defensive real plus-minus last season), but his career 27.7% three-point percentage on just 83 total attempts has prevented him from staying in the rotation at times.
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With a summer in San Antonio, I think MKG could improve that shot enough to provide 15-20 minutes of great defense off the bench for a team that sorely needs a lockdown defender.
At just 25 years old, which is only one year older than Derrick White, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would be a perfect reclamation project for the Spurs. Hopefully he comes at a cheap enough price for them to pull the trigger.
Check out our other lists of potential free agent targets: