The San Antonio Spurs probably need to add another reliable big man this offseason to improve their squad. Here are some unrestricted free agents that could fill that need for a reasonable price.
The emergence of Jakob Poeltl in the second half of the season and LaMarcus Aldridge continuing to play at an All-NBA level gave the San Antonio Spurs two good starters in the frontcourt, but they struggled to find a reliable third option behind those two this season.
Pau Gasol was playing that role for the first half of the year, but the Spurs decided to buy out the rest of his contract after he showed he didn’t have much left in the tank at his advanced age.
The Spurs may use one or both of their first round picks on big men, but we’ve seen that this organization prefers to develop their first round rookies in the G League for a year before they’re ready to contribute at the highest level of basketball.
That leaves free agency as the one place to find that missing piece. Luckily, there are a lot of free agent big men on the market who could be had for a very low price.
Let’s take a look at some of those affordable big men who will become available on July 1st.
Next: Dewayne Dedmon
I think the Spurs would welcome a reunion with Dewayne Dedmon after he spent a year in San Antonio in 2016-17.
His development with the Spurs helped him earn a two-year $14 million contract with the Hawks that is set to expire this summer.
Dedmon has continued to play the same solid defense from the center position that we saw during his year with the Spurs despite having an awful defensive roster around him in Atlanta, but he’s now added the three-point shot to his game which has made him a much more dangerous offensive player.
Dedmon shot his first career three-pointer last season, and he improved his outside shot this year hitting 38.2% from deep on 3.4 attempts per game.
Dedmon was already dangerous as the roll man in a pick-and-roll, but now he is just as dangerous in a pick-and-pop situation with that much-improved three-point shot.
The Spurs could desperately use some outside shooting prowess in their starting lineup, and Dedmon is one of the few players who can bring that skill at the center position and not sacrifice anything on the defensive end of the floor.
Adding Dedmon would make San Antonio better on offense and defense, and he’s already familiar with Gregg Popovich’s system after wearing a Spurs uniform two years ago.
Hopefully he is available at an affordable price where San Antonio can make him an offer.
Next: JaMychal Green
JaMychal Green is another former Spurs big man (although he only played four games at the NBA level during his stint in San Antonio) who is capable of stretching the floor to allow more room for DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge to operate in the midrange and allow better driving lanes for Dejounte Murray and Derrick White to take it to the hoop.
Green shot over 40% from three on 2.7 attempts per game last season in a Grizzlies and Clippers uniform, so defenses must respect his ability to shoot from deep.
Unfortunately, the advanced numbers don’t like JaMychal’s defense as he ranked 98th among 100 power forwards in defensive real plus-minus last season. And that wasn’t a fluke as he finished 70th out of 83 power forwards in that statistic during the 2017-18 season.
While adding JaMychal Green would improve the Spurs’ floor spacing on the offensive end of the floor, they need to be looking for above-average defenders in free agency to improve a unit that ranked 19th in defensive rating last season.
If Green is available for a minimum contract, I would consider adding him at that price. But if his contract is any more expensive than that, I think the Spurs should pass on this option.
Next: Kenneth Faried
Many thought Kenneth Faried‘s days as a useful player were over after he fell out of the Nuggets’ rotation, was traded to Brooklyn in a salary dump, and was subsequently cut by the Nets.
However, the Manimal revived his career in Houston as he took over the Clint Capela role in the Rockets’ offense while Capela was dealing with an injury that kept him out for an extended amount of time.
Faried averaged 12.9 points and 8.2 rebounds in 24.4 minutes per game with Houston, which makes him much more appealing in free agency than he was six months ago.
Faried probably won’t land in a much better situation than he did with the Rockets if he signs elsewhere in free agency, but he’s at least proven that he can be a solid backup big man on a multitude of different teams.
The Spurs do need a reliable backup big, but Faried’s skillset overlaps with Jakob Poeltl’s too much for him to be an option this offseason. I’d like to see San Antonio go after a more skilled big man to compliment what Poeltl brings to the table if they’re going to bring in a free agent at that position.
Next: Markieff Morris
Markieff Morris is another big man who switched teams midseason as the Wizards traded him to New Orleans before he was subsequently waived by the Pelicans.
I thought the Spurs should have taken a look at Morris in the buyout market, but Markieff instead signed with Oklahoma City before San Antonio eventually filled Pau Gasol’s vacant roster spot with Donatas Montiejunas.
After shooting over 36% from three on over 2.5 attempts per game during his final two seasons with the Wizards, Markieff’s outside shot cooled off a bit this year as he only hit 33.5% of his shots from deep on 3.5 attempts per game.
Morris dealt with a neck injury for most of the first half of the season, which may help explain why his outside shot was slightly less effective this year.
Markieff still needs to be defended at the three-point line, and he’s a switchable defender who can guard multiple positions. That’s the type of big man the Spurs should be targeting this offseason.
Hopefully Morris will be available for a minimum contract in free agency. If he is, I think he would be a solid fit in San Antonio and he’s still got a few good years left at age 29.
Next: Kevon Looney
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His emergence began in last year’s Western Conference Finals where he was able to hold his own after being switched onto James Harden and Chris Paul even though the Rockets relentlessly attacked him in the pick-and-roll all series long.
Looney has improved again this season with career-highs in points, rebounds, and field goal percentage, and we’ve continued to see him play very well on the defensive end of the floor at the highest level in the Western Conference playoffs.
Looney will be surrounded by lesser talent if he decides to leave Golden State in free agency, but he has shown flashes of skill that suggest there might be more to his game if he is given a bigger role.
And even though he’s been in the league for four years, he’s still only 23 years old with a lot of room to grow.
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If Looney continues to play this well throughout the NBA Finals, he might become more expensive than what the Spurs would be willing to spend on him in free agency. However, San Antonio should be keeping a close eye on his market because he could be a steal if they can get him for the right price.