The San Antonio Spurs head into this offseason with a couple positions of need, including the power forward/center spot. If they decide to address it in free agency, here are some of the top available big men.
As we have documented before, the San Antonio Spurs have one of the best guard situations in the NBA so we probably won’t see the front office add any talent at that position this offseason.
However, the Spurs could use some help at the wing position and adding another big man or two would really solidify the rotation heading into next season.
Also, we don’t know exactly what the big man market will like like this summer. If there is relatively low demand for some of these bigs, they could come at a very appealing price.
With nearly half of the league becoming free agents this offseason, there are a ton of possible targets if the Spurs want to address their big man deficiency in free agency.
Let’s focus in on some players who could be available with the non-taxpayer Mid-Level exception, which is expected to be worth around $9 million this year.
Next: Nikola Mirotic
The Spurs could be taking a look at two different kinds of big men to play alongside LaMarcus Aldridge next season: either a floor-spacing power forward while Aldridge plays at center, or a true center who allows Aldridge to slot in at the four.
Jakob Poeltl fits that mold as a true center, so San Antonio’s front office may be targeting a player like Nikola Mirotic to add to their frontcourt.
Mirotic has shot 36.5% or better from downtown in each of the past two seasons, and he’s getting up nearly nine attempts per game.
If the Spurs decide to start Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, DeMar DeRozan, and LaMarcus Aldridge next year, they’re going to need someone to space the floor at the fifth starting spot and Mirotic can do exactly that.
He’s also proven to be a solid defender despite the stereotype that floor-spacing European bigs aren’t usually good on that end of the floor.
I’m not sure if Mirotic will be available for $9-10 million this year, but if he is I’d like to see him in a Spurs uniform next season.
Next: Enes Kanter
Enes Kanter is coming off of a roller coaster of a season, but it’s ending on a high note in Portland.
Kanter was traded to the Knicks as a part of the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2017, and he exercised his player option to stay in New York this season.
The Knicks started benching Kanter as they went into full tank mode and eventually waived him.
Heading into the Western Conference Finals, the Turkish big man is averaging 12.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game with a true shooting percentage of 55.6% in the postseason while gutting out a separated shoulder that he suffered in the first round.
Before this playoff run, Kanter may have been a pretty cheap option with some of the holes in his game, especially on the defensive end of the floor. However, he’s certainly earned himself some money during this postseason run with Portland.
While it would be pretty awesome to see Kanter and Jakob Poeltl split the center minutes up in an offense-defense duo, I wouldn’t want to pay him the type of money he’s going to get this summer.
Next: Robin Lopez
Robin Lopez surprisingly didn’t make it to the buyout market this season as the Bulls decided to keep him for the entire year.
Lopez’s minutes were cut to 21.7 per game this season, which caused his box score stats to take a dip after he was consistently averaging 10+ points and 5-7 rebounds per game over the last few years.
ESPN’s defensive real plus-minus has Lopez as a below-average defensive center over the last two years. If he’s not going to give you solid defense, than Robin doesn’t have a ton of value in today’s NBA.
Surely Robin would improve on that end of the floor under Gregg Popovich, but his skillset overlaps too much with Jakob Poeltl’s and I don’t want to see a 31-year-old center stunting Poeltl’s development by taking his minutes away.
Even if Lopez comes at a reasonable price, I don’t see the value in adding him to the Spurs’ roster.
Next: Brook Lopez
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While I don’t see Robin as a good fit in San Antonio, I think Brook could be the type of center the Spurs need to take the next step in 2019-20.
Brook Lopez could provide some much-needed outside shooting to a team that may be starting Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, DeMar DeRozan, and LaMarcus Aldridge next year.
Brook shot 36.5% from three on 6.3 attempts per game in Milwaukee this season, and he was a main reason why the Bucks were able to take a giant leap this year.
While the advanced numbers didn’t love Lopez’s defense this year, he did show an ability to be an elite rim protector at 31 years old with a career-high 2.2 blocks per game.
Lopez could play a similar role in Gregg Popovich’s defensive scheme, and his elite outside shooting for a big man would open up an offense that doesn’t have many three-point shooters.
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Brook will surely get more than the one-year, $3.38 million contract he signed with Milwaukee last summer, but he could still be in the Spurs’ price range if they want to spend their money on a center.