We’re still not sure if the NBA season is over, but if it is we may have seen the last of these three players in a San Antonio Spurs uniform.
The world of sports as we know it has come to a screeching halt. Every major sports league in the United States has suspended or pushed back its season, the Olympics have been postponed, and I’ve spent countless hours diving down YouTube rabbit holes to get my San Antonio Spurs fix.
If the NBA does elect to pick the season back up it’s unclear how they will go about resuming play. The league could decide to play out the remainder of the regular season, get creative with how they start the playoffs or jump directly into postseason play using the standings as they are today.
If they decide to go with the final option, we will have seen the last of the San Antonio Spurs in the 2019-20 season. The record-tying streak of playoff appearances will be broken and we will have to look to 2021 to start a new streak. The ending of the season could also mean that we will have seen some members of the team play their final games in the silver and black.
San Antonio will have quite a few important roster decisions to make this summer. They’ve got one huge question mark surrounding DeMar DeRozan, and smaller but still important decisions to be made regarding the future of some of their role players.
They still have time to figure all the details out but these three players may have seen their last days in the Alamo City.
Next: Moving on from Marco
Marco Belinelli leaves as an unrestricted free agent
Throughout the season, perhaps no player on the San Antonio Spurs was hit with as much criticism as Marco Belinelli. Marco had his day with the Spurs, he helped the team capture the most recent championship, but those days are fully in the rearview mirror for a fan base that’s hungry to return to title contention.
Belinelli is an unrestricted free agent this summer and it’s inconceivable that the front office would want to bring him back. We’ve ragged on Marco enough this year, that’s not what this is about. But bringing him back would create a maddening and unnecessary roadblock in the development of the Spurs younger guards.
Seemingly from the first game of the season, Spurs fans were calling for Belinelli to be nailed to the end of the bench in favor of Lonnie Walker. The frustration is understandable, Walker is the new guy, full of potential, and ready to deliver rim-rattling dunks that would electrify the fanbase. But Gregg Popovich won’t play someone unless he fully believes they’re ready and, to be frank, Lonnie wasn’t there for much of the season.
This led Pop to go with Marco much more frequently than fans would have liked. That started to change as the season progressed, we saw Lonnie get more and more playing time as he proved he was ready. We even saw Keldon Johnson begin to slide into the lineup in areas where Pop would have previously deployed Belinelli.
The potential of the Spurs young players, and the rapidly declining defense of Belinelli, would lead you to believe that his days in San Antonio may have come to a close. Of the three players that we’re covering here, Marco is the most likely to leave this summer.
Next: Should the Spurs bring back Bryn?
Could the Spurs bring back Bryn Forbes
If Belinelli was public enemy number one for Spurs fans, Bryn Forbes wasn’t too far behind. We weren’t shy in our criticism of Forbes ourselves. But to his credit Forbes preserved and continued to provide a much needed shooting spark to a Spurs team light on deep threats.
Like Belinelli, Forbes will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He’s coming off of a deal that paid him $6 million over two years. An impressive salary for 99.99 percent of the population but less than what he may feel like he deserves and certainly less than what he is set to make this summer.
Everything we know about Bryn and the Spurs would lead you to believe that he’s inclined to come back. He lives in San Antonio, has spent his entire career here, has put down roots and settled his family into the city. It’s not easy to walk away from a situation that you and your family are comfortable in. It’ll take a hefty bag to make him think about it.
Gregg Popovich hasn’t been shy about telling his players when they need to accept a better offer. We saw it happen when the Detroit Pistons lured away Boban Marjanović and again when Johnathan Simmons got his payday from the Orlando Magic.
How much will Forbes be able to command on the open market? Seth Curry got a 4-year $32 million dollar deal from the Dallas Mavericks last summer. Now, Curry is a better shooter than Forbes but a team could very well offer Forbes a 3-year deal worth around $6.5 million a year. Would that be too much for the Spurs to match?
He’s a favorite of the coaching staff, is a career Spur, and an integral part of the team. But with the hit that the salary cap will take due to the season suspension, it will all come down to how much San Antonio is willing to pay for a player with glaringly obvious limitations.
Next: The nine-figure question mark
What does the future hold for DeMar DeRozan
Every decision the San Antonio Spurs make this summer will be influenced by how DeMar DeRozan decides to handle his $27 million dollar player option for next season. And right now, no one has a clue what he is going to do.
We’ve seen reports that DeRozan is unhappy in San Antonio, and that he is likely to leave if he and the team are not able to come to terms on a hefty extension. He came to the Spurs on a 5-year $139 million dollar deal that he signed with the Toronto Raptors. As he heads into what is likely to be his last chance to sign a major deal, he will likely be looking for a deal in a similar range.
Is it in San Antonio’s best interest to pay him that much? DeRozan is a phenomenal basketball player. His mid-range style of play isn’t for everyone but it’s a thing of beauty to watch him get to his spots and work defenders when he is in the zone. He’s an old school iso scorer, a maestro of the fadeaway. The problem is, that style hasn’t led to winning for DeMar and the Spurs.
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It’s led to enough winning that the Spurs have been in playoff contention in both of DeMar’s years with the team. But in San Antonio, as it was in Toronto, questions remain about DeRozan’s ability to be the primary option on a championship level team. And if a player can’t do that, what are you giving them a nine-figure contract for?
We saw Dejounte Murray elevate his game when DeRozan has sat out, Lonnie Walker is hungry for more playing time and looks like he has 20+ point per game potential in him. Would the team be better off putting its chips on those two, along with the rest of their up and comers, rather than doubling down on DeRozan for the next four years?
We’ve likely seen DeRozan reach his peak in a Spurs uniform. As Father Time continues to exact its price, he’s going to continue to trend further and further away from the awe-inspiring athlete he once was. This will likely lead him to lean more and more on the things he’s comfortable with: shooting mid-range jumpers. That’s not the kind of player you envision building a championship contender around.
If this is the last we have seen of these three in a San Antonio Spurs uniform we will remember them fondly. They’ve all played important roles on the team during their tenure. But it’s time for the Spurs to turn the page and start focusing on the future.