San Antonio Spurs: Grading Every Offseason Move
Considering the San Antonio Spurs came into the offseason with limited resources, let’s grade each of their moves from this summer.
The San Antonio Spurs knew they didn’t have the salary cap space to make a move for one of the premier free agents this offseason, but they did have a non-taxpayer Mid-Level Exception to use which was worth about $9.2 million.
The Spurs also had three picks to spend in this year’s draft, including two first round selections, but we won’t touch on those moves in this article considering we already handed out some draft grades this offseason.
San Antonio did pretty well this summer even though they didn’t have the money to make a big splash and they were forced into a backup plan after Marcus Morris left them out to dry in July.
The Spurs were able to add a solid veteran, another rotational big man with some upside and bring back one of their most important players on a reasonable contract extension.
Let’s dive deeper into each of those moves and evaluate the decisions made by the Spurs’ front office this summer.
Next: DeMarre Carroll
The San Antonio Spurs needed to add a wing or two to their roster as they didn’t have a ton of depth behind Rudy Gay at that position.
According to multiple reports, the Spurs originally agreed to a two-year deal worth $13 million which was an okay value for a 33-year-old three-and-D wing.
However, when San Antonio thought they had the Marcus Morris signing in the bag they changed Carroll’s deal to a three-year, $20.65 million pact. The Spurs had to add a third year to the deal in order to use the Mid-Level Exception, but fortunately only $1.35 million of Carroll’s third-year salary is guaranteed.
The theory of DeMarre Carroll would be a great fit in San Antonio, but he hasn’t quite been the same player since his knee injury a few years ago.
Carroll is an inconsistent three-point shooter hitting under 34.5% of his downtown attempts in two of the past three seasons.
His defense has also fallen off a bit as he enters his mid-30’s ranking 53rd among 93 small forwards in defensive real plus-minus last season after coming in 11th in that metric two years ago.
If Carroll can hit around 37% or better from three and return to his defensive form of 2017-18, the Spurs may have gotten a steal here. But we’re not sure what San Antonio is going to get from DeMarre Carroll over the two guaranteed years of this deal.
Next: Davis Bertans Trade
Davis Bertans Trade
As mentioned earlier, the Spurs attempted to do some salary cap gymnastics in order to sign Marcus Morris, who was the top free agent on the market at the time.
One of those necessary moves included trading Davis Bertans to Washington to clear the cap space to bring in Morris.
Unfortunately, the deal was already done before Morris decided to back out and sign with the Knicks, so the Spurs essentially gave up Bertans for no reason.
Even if San Antonio was able to get that Marcus Morris deal done, I’m not sure trading Bertans was a good move.
Bertans was one of the league’s best three-point shooters last season (42.9%), and the Spurs desperately need that type of knockdown shooting to surround their non-shooter stars. He also flashed some ability of being a solid wing defender with good movement for a player with his 6’10” frame.
Marcus Morris would’ve been an upgrade over Bertans for sure, but was it enough of an upgrade to dump Davis for nothing?
Obviously this move looks terrible now that the Spurs don’t have Morris on the roster, but this trade could’ve and should’ve been criticized even more when it happened.
Next: Trey Lyles
The Spurs were forced to scramble after the Marcus Morris debacle, and there weren’t many players left on the market that were worth spending that newly-opened cap space on.
San Antonio did the best they could considering the situation by signing Trey Lyles to a two-year, $11 million deal where the second season is non-guaranteed.
Lyles has been a streaky shooter throughout his career knocking down 38.3% from beyond the arc in 2015-16, 31.9% in 2016-17, 38.1% in 2017-18, and a career-low 25.5% last season.
The former Kentucky Wildcat came into the league with the potential to be a switchable big defender, but that hasn’t come to pass so far ranking 63rd and 59th in defensive real plus-minus the last two seasons.
Trey Lyles’ best trait is his age considering he’s just 23 years old as he enters his fifth NBA season. There still may be some untapped potential in Lyles, and the Spurs’ player development staff is more than qualified to get the most out of him.
Marcus Morris would’ve certainly been a better fit for the upcoming season, but getting a young and potentially versatile player like Lyles ended up being a solid backup plan.
Next: Rudy Gay
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With the San Antonio Spurs entering the offseason with no cap space, they could either decide to extend Rudy Gay’s contract or lose him for nothing with really no way to replace him.
Despite Gay and his representatives having most of the leverage in these negotiations, I think the Spurs got a decent deal locking Gay up for the next two years on a $32 million contract.
That makes Rudy the 17th-highest paid small forward according to cap hit next season, which isn’t ridiculous for a versatile wing player like him.
Gay had one of the most efficient years of his career on the offensive end of the floor last season hitting over 40% from three for the first time in his 13-year career with a career-high true shooting percentage of 58.3%.
Rudy was also outstanding on defense ranking 10th among small forwards in defensive real plus-minus despite facing the opposition’s best wing player almost every night.
Gay finally looked fully recovered from the Achilles injury he suffered in Sacramento, and he has really hit his stride after two years in San Antonio.
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Rudy may regress a bit as he turns 33 years old in a couple of days, but he should continue to be a great glue guy that holds this roster together during this two-year deal.