Even though he’s been a staple of the last four years of San Antonio Spurs basketball, guard Bryn Forbes should be moved before the NBA Trade Deadline.
In each of his first three seasons, San Antonio Spurs guard Bryn Forbes showed noticeable improvement in his offensive game. Entering the league as an undrafted player from Michigan State, Forbes showed a lot of promise for his shooting ability and undying will to be special. He worked his way up through the Spurs’ G-League system and eventually cracked the rotation.
Offensively, Forbes can be a very helpful addition to any team. He’s a sure-fire floor spacer with deep range, individual shot creation ability and wisdom of the Spurs’ way to help shape an unselfish and moldable playstyle. Bryn’s confidence is undeniable and he’s never one to back down from a challenge.
With all of this said, Forbes is no longer what the Spurs need him to be. San Antonio has a carousel of players rotating through the backcourt; vying for playing time and consistency. In the absence of starting point guard, Dejounte Murray, who returned with a chip on his shoulder and an improved offensive game, combo guard Derrick White brought his name to national attention with an exceptional two-way effort last year.
Meanwhile, veteran point guard Patty Mills is having a renaissance as the group’s voice of reason while sophomore Lonnie Walker IV has begun to crack the rotation with dynamic athleticism and innate scoring instincts.
There’s not a lot of room left to go around and despite head coach Gregg Popovich’s trust in the fourth-year guard, his future with the team is in question. Newly appointed general manager Brian Wright doesn’t have to play favorites to get his job done and could swap Forbes out for a player in a position of need like small forward or center.
The team will embrace him whether he stays or goes, but it may be wise to part ways with Forbes to help turn things around this season.
Next: Bryn hits unrestricted free agency this Summer
1. Bryn hits unrestricted free agency this Summer
Entering the 2020 offseason, there’s a lot of flexibility regarding the future of the San Antonio Spurs. Seven-time All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge will enter the final year of his contract with no extension in sight and the team’s current leader, wing DeMar DeRozan, has a player option for 2020-21.
Next season, $5 million in dead cap from big man Pau Gasol will come off the books, as well as the contracts of sharpshooter Marco Belinelli, restricted free agent Jakob Poeltl and Forbes himself. Committing Forbes to a longterm contract wouldn’t bode well for San Antonio, especially considering his declining efficiency at only 26-years-old.
His field goal percentage is down 5.3% and his 3-point percentage is down 6% from last season—a staggering decrease for a player whose entire purpose in the flow of the offense is to shoot jumpers. It’s hard to justify paying Forbes in the offseason when he’s playing his worst all-around game since he was a rookie on both sides of the floor.
If the Spurs are going to let him walk in the offseason, they may as well see if a team like Orlando, Brooklyn or Minnesota, all of which are fighting for the playoffs and rank in the bottom-four of three-point percentage, would like to take a chance on him to improve their floor spacing and perimeter scoring.
He could be dangled out on the open market for a one-for-one swap, or in part of a larger package. His $2.8 million salary isn’t difficult to match and could potentially bring back some younger, more defensively inclined talent in the process.
Forbes’ output simply doesn’t warrant a contract extension, especially when you take into account how genuinely dreadful he has been defensively this season.
Next: He's an unquestioned defensive liability
2. Forbes is a defensive liability
Anyone who bases their basketball takes on the eye-test can attest to how bad Forbes has been defensively, and the statisticians of the world would have to agree. Bryn is forced to defend two-guards while playing at just 6-foot-2, a height more average of point guards.
Forbes is no spectacular athlete and doesn’t have great instincts. All it takes is a mediocre screen to completely isolate him from a play, and his one-on-one coverage honestly isn’t much better. He gets beaten off the dribble frequently, albeit not for a lack of effort. Forbes doesn’t have long arms or a high vert to contest jump shots on the perimeter, and can easily be shoved away when his matchup attacks the rim.
It may sound like I’m trashing Forbes, but I want to make it clear that all of these factors have nothing to do with effort. Bryn made the league by working his tail off and fighting as hard as he can to be an NBA-caliber talent, and he’s earned his place in the NBA. However, his physical attributes make him a liability on defense and there’s nothing he can do to change that.
This offseason, Forbes underwent a physical transformation by bulking up heavily and adding a ton of mass to his frame. This stout look instilled hope that he could start taking on his defensive assignments a bit better, but it just never came to fruition.
Forbes ranks 448th in defensive rating and 423rd in defensive win shares playing over 1,000 minutes across 39 games. He has the worst net rating of the team’s regular rotation players (poor Drew Eubanks’ stats have been annihilated by late-game scenarios), and the Spurs’ defensive rating improves by 9.3 when he’s off the floor.
Other teams can afford to have this problem, but not San Antonio. There’s simply not enough emphasis on the defense for this team to continue like this.
Next: Fleshing out an underachieving roster
3. Wright can flesh out an underachieving roster
This point has nothing to do with Forbes himself, but rather with the poor construction of this Spurs team by Wright. There’s not a clear direction for San Antonio with youth and veterans blending together without creating a winning product.
With a losing record that hasn’t been seen by this organization since the late-nineties, something has to be done if the organization is unwilling to settle with complacency.
San Antonio has some incredible basketball minds working for them. Even besides Popovich, who probably wouldn’t be keen on the idea of moving Forbes because of their connection, the Spurs have Wright, CEO R.C. Buford, assistant coaches Tim Duncan and Becky Hammon amongst others.
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All of these people should be able to see that what’s going on right now isn’t good enough for this powerhouse of an organization.
Throwing Forbes’ name out there in some trade conversation could seriously help San Antonio gauge their options moving forward. If Pop trusts Forbes enough to start him this deep into the season, he could certainly turn some heads and draw help from opposing GMs.
Even if he’s used as a chip in a larger deal, whether it be to win-now or to build for the future, Forbes is a crafty player that’ll find his way with any team. He worked hard enough to get to this point in his career and he wouldn’t let a trade stop him from flourishing.
The most recent shooting guard to get shipped out of San Antonio, two-time champion Danny Green, found his way outside of the Spurs and Forbes will too.
However, a change of scenery opens up a world of opportunity for both parties in some cases and letting go of Forbes despite his history with the team may be what’s best for everyone involved.