With a vacant roster spot and not much left to lose, the San Antonio Spurs could take a swing at a number of remaining free agents for a playoff push.
The San Antonio Spurs have an open roster spot and nothing to do with it, for the time being. Following the buyout of forward DeMarre Carroll‘s contract, there’s been radio silence regarding the Spurs’ next move. Last season, San Antonio brought in Donatas Motiejūnas to replace the gap left by Hall of Famer Pau Gasol‘s contract.
Whether or not someone who joins the team would get actual minutes is hard to say. The talent pool left for free agents is limited, but not to the point where it’s not worth bringing someone along. There are plenty of young players who’d thrive with the chance to prove themselves, and a hearty group of veterans vying to get back to the professional ranks.
Either way, the Spurs have some things to figure out before officially being eliminated from playoff contention. They currently sit 24-33 for the 11th seed in the Western Conference, just 3.5 behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who have the most difficult remaining schedule in the league. The competition is fierce with six teams within five games of the eighth seed.
To make matters more interesting, the Grizzlies have suffered a handful of injuries to key players like big man Jaren Jackson Jr. and rookie Brandon Clarke. That’ll make it particularly difficult for them to keep in the playoff picture.
The Portland Trail Blazers are without MVP-candidate Damian Lillard, the Phoenix Suns just lost forward Kelly Oubre Jr. for the season, the New Orleans Pelicans can’t seem to figure out how to win at home and the Sacramento Kings, well, are the Sacramento Kings.
The Spurs still have a fighting chance, but they need to step up now and getting some additional help could swing the pendulum in their favor.
Next: The BIG3 MVP
1. Joe Johnson
Few players have legacies as underrated as Iso Joe Johnson. The 38-year-old never won a title or came particularly close, but anyone from his era would tell you that Iso Joe is a walking bucket in the purest form of the phrase.
Last Summer, Johnson joined legendary entrepreneur Ice Cube’s BIG3 basketball league and dominated the summer circuit. He led the league in points, assist and four-point shots while leading his team, The Triplets, to a championship in their first season as part of the league’s expansion.
His devastating handles and deep range allowed him to take his competition to another level. Joe hasn’t had a solid role in the league in a few years and literally won a playoff series for the Utah Jazz just a few short seasons ago.
Johnson’s killer play in the BIG3 and subsequent play in practices and tryouts resulted in a contract with the Detroit Pistons this offseason.
ISO JOE IS BACK!This is what Joe Johnson did in his 1st @TheBIG3 season.
Led the league in PTS, AST, 4PTS Made 6 game winnersWon MVPWon a Championship
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 22, 2020
Johnson could come off the bench and add some firepower to the second unit, draining deep threes and passing within the team set as the team fights its way into the playoffs.
Known as one of the greatest clutch scorers the game has ever witnessed, Johnson could help the Spurs close out games and hit triples. It’d likely be his last shot at playing in the NBA, as he’s signed on to return to the BIG3 this summer, so he’d definitely give it his all.
Next: Taking another chance at the big leagues
2. Ivan Rabb
A second-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, former Cal big man Ivan Rabb played 85 games across two seasons in the NBA—both of which came with the Memphis Grizzlies. Rabb averaged 5.8 points and 4.2 rebounds on 54.7 percent shooting but wasn’t able to separate himself as a strong prospect for the Grizzlies’ rebuilding core.
Currently, Rabb is 27 games into his stint with the New York Knicks’ G-League affiliate in Westchester and has performed relatively well. The 6-foot-11 power forward/center is putting up 16.1 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game on 55 percent shooting from the field. He’s stepping up as a rebounder, which became an area of concern with the Grizzlies, and has asserted himself on defense as well.
Rabb is averaging a career-best 1.3 Defensive Win Shares for Westchester and has the highest Value Over Replacement Player (1.8) of his career right now. It took him a bit of time to get adjusted to this level of competition, but the 23-year-old is starting to mature and could be a valuable backup in the Alamo City.
San Antonio could use a complementary rim defender in their secondary to help alleviate some of the pressure on Jakob Poeltl. With the help of Spurs shooting coach Chip Engelland, Rabb could fulfill the 40.9 percent three-point jumper he boasted in two collegiate seasons.
This is a low-risk, high reward addition for the Spurs. He already has more than 1,200 legitimate NBA-minutes of experience under his belt. Rabb knows what it takes to be in the NBA now, and the Spurs could be the team that helps him take the next step.
Whether he helps right now or would be an asset for the future is to be determined, but it could be worth a chance.
Next: 3. Getting some help on the glass
3. Deyonta Davis
San Antonio hasn’t been great on the glass this year, and 6-foot-9 big man Deyonta Davis could certainly assist with that. Playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors, Davis is averaging 10.9 points, eight boards, 1.7 blocks and 1.1 blocks per game in the G-League after three seasons and 1,299 career minutes in the NBA with Memphis and Atlanta.
A former Michigan State Spartan, Davis is working his way back into the playing ranks after being waived by the Houston Rockets this summer. The 23-year-old is a poised talent who knows his role and plays it well. He brings a lot of energy to the defensive side of the ball while showing unwavering enthusiasm for attacking the offensive glass.
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Davis is the type of player to block a shot on one end and put back a shot on the other. He doesn’t need the ball to be effective but can create something for himself in the paint if need be. Davis imposes himself physically despite never being the tallest or most athletic player on the court.
More so than anything, Davis is a hard worker and that’s the most important trait that a player can have in the Spurs’ system. Giving him a chance to work out with the team and get a feel for their system would be a low-risk way to check out his tenacity.
Davis could play small-ball five or lineup at the power forward for San Antonio as a 10th man off the bench. He doesn’t need a ton of time, but he’d also provide an insurance policy for the Spurs if LaMarcus Aldridge continues to deal with shoulder pain or anything of the sort.
These Spurs lack physicality and toughness, and Davis could provide that for them in a time of need.