San Antonio Spurs: Best Available Free Agent Big Men
The San Antonio Spurs still have a couple million dollars to work with in free agency, which should help them find a solid backup big man.
The San Antonio Spurs had the Mid-Level Exception available to use this summer as really their only way to add talent to their roster in free agency.
The front office decided to use about $6.5 million of that $9.3 million Mid-Level Exception to add depth on the wing by signing DeMarre Carroll as an unrestricted free agent.
That leaves a little less than $3 million for them to potentially add a free agent big man before the offseason is over.
Fortunately, there are a ton of big men still on the market after the first day of free agency and the Spurs should be able to scoop one up on a reasonable contract if they decide to use their remaining money on that position.
San Antonio’s roster is pretty crowded right now, but adding some more frontcourt depth should be a priority for them if they plan on bringing in another player because LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl are the only proven big men currently under contract.
Let’s take a look at some free agents who could help bolster the Spurs’ big man rotation with San Antonio’s current financial situation.
Next: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
Dylan Carter wrote about Rondae Hollis-Jefferson as a potential fit for the Spurs before free agency began after the Nets allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent by not extending him a qualifying offer.
Hollis-Jefferson is an enigmatic player, but he’s an intriguing small-ball center that has the ability to switch and guard multiple positions.
RHJ would also be able to run the floor well with the Spurs’ up-tempo second unit and provide a ton of energy and versatility on the defensive end of the floor.
Rondae fell out of the Nets’ rotation last season, but he’s only 24 years old and has been productive in this league already putting up 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1 steal per game with Brooklyn in 2017-18.
Taking a low-cost flyer on someone with Hollis-Jefferson’s talent would be a savvy move at this point in the process, and the Spurs should have enough money to get a deal done considering his current market.
Next: Nerlens Noel
Nerlens Noel is always an entertaining player to follow in free agency as he’s already been a part of some interesting offseason decisions during his career.
This year is no different for him as Noel reportedly agreed to return to Oklahoma City on some sort of new contract, but he has since backed out on that deal.
Noel’s change of heart may have resulted from the Thunder’s signing of Mike Muscala, who could compete for playing time in OKC’s frontcourt next season.
At 25 years old, Noel is another young free agent big man that the Spurs should consider bringing in.
The former Kentucky Wildcat continues to be an athletic rim protector as he blocked 1.2 shots in just 13.7 minutes per game last season, which extrapolates to 3.3 blocks per 36 minutes.
He’s also an athletic rim-runner that can put pressure on the defense by diving to the hoop hard in the pick-and-roll.
Noel is still extremely thin and probably can’t play starter-level minutes at center, but the Spurs probably wouldn’t ask him to do that as Jakob Poeltl will enter the season as the projected starter.
If it’s true that Noel is backing out of that agreement with OKC, San Antonio would be a good landing spot for the free agent big man.
UPDATE: Noel has decided to follow through on his initial agreement and return to the Thunder.
Next: Cheick Diallo
Cheick Diallo is another intriguing, young free agent big man who could excel with a change of scenery.
Diallo is looking for an expanded role after playing just 14 minutes per game for the Pelicans last season, and the Spurs could offer him that with their current lack of depth in the frontcourt.
Diallo came into the league as a pretty raw prospect, and he simply hasn’t had enough playing time to know how good he can be in the NBA.
The 6’9″ forward has the ability to switch on the defensive end due to his extreme athleticism, and he has plenty of room for his offensive skillset to grow at just 22 years old.
Diallo is the type of project the Spurs’ player development staff would love to get their hands on, and San Antonio could probably acquire him for a very reasonable price at this stage of free agency.
Any of these three young big men would be solid options for the Spurs to take a chance on, unless they plan on bringing in a veteran to bolster their frontcourt depth.
Next: Veteran Options
The signing of DeMarre Carroll hints that the Spurs may be looking for veteran players who are ready to contribute right away in free agency rather than a project that needs time to develop.
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If San Antonio plans to go down that road, there are still plenty of viable options for them to fill that frontcourt need.
JaVale McGee is coming off of a career year in Los Angeles where he scored 12 points with 7.5 rebounds and 2 blocks per game showing that he can still produce at a pretty high level for a reasonable price.
JaMychal Green would be able to space the floor as a small-ball five if the Spurs decide to bring him back to San Antonio for another go around.
Boban Marjanovich is another former Spur who could be set for a reunion. Boban has always extremely productive when he’s on the floor, but he’s not a perfect fit for every team.
Fortunately, San Antonio knows how to use him.
UPDATE: Boban has reportedly signed with the Mavericks.
Kenneth Faried is another high-energy player who could run the floor with San Antonio’s second unit after he had a very strong year filling in for Clint Capela in Houston, while Nene and Greg Monroe remain options who could be available for minimum contracts.
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The Spurs have plenty of players they can choose to invest the rest of their Mid-Level Exception in, or they could try to grab one or two of these players on veteran minimum contracts.
If San Antonio decides they need to bring in another player or two, there are some great values out there for them to fill out their frontcourt rotation.