3 Forwards for the San Antonio Spurs to chase in free agency
By Ethan Farina
The San Antonio Spurs have a lot of work to do to get back to their standard level of excellence, these three forwards can help them get on their way
The San Antonio Spurs are pretty well set with guards. Between Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Lonnie Walker, and Patty Mills they should have no problems fielding an effective pair of guards on a nightly basis. Unfortunately the same can not be said for their frontcourt.
LaMarcus Aldridge played well in his fifth year with the team, stretching his offensive game out past the 3-point line and picking up his defensive efforts. The Spurs can expect more of that from him next year. But outside of Aldridge things are uncertain.
Rudy Gay‘s step back this year, combined with the emergence of Trey Lyles as a viable option, has made Gay replaceable. Given the reported interest he received at this year’s trade deadline and his status as an upcoming free agent in 2021 it would be surprising if he is still on the team by the end of next season.
Then there are the questions around Jakob Poeltl‘s upcoming free agency. The Austrian big man took a big step forward as a rim protector in his second year with the Spurs and has proven that he deserves an extension. But he’s limited on offense, how will that impact the Spurs’ ability to space the floor and make room for their slashing guards?
San Antonio could be looking at a tight cap this summer, depending on how DeMar DeRozan handles his player option and whether or not he and the team can come to terms on an extension.
Those issues notwithstanding, here are a few forward options for the Spurs to consider in free agency this summer.
Next: A former Spur
The fallout of the Marcus Morris/DeMarre Carroll saga made Spurs fans miss Davis Bertans more than they already did. While the Spurs struggled to crawl out of the bottom of the league in terms of 3-point shots attempted, Bertans was firing away and having the time of his life on a Washington Wizards team that gave him the greenest light possible.
The arguments for bringing Bertans back are pretty straightforward. He’s in the top-ten in the league in 3-pointers attempted, 3-pointers made, and 3-point accuracy. He’s as dangerous of a long-range weapon as you will find in the NBA. His time in Washington has made him even more dangerous as he was given a longer leash than ever before and showed he can be a top-scoring option on a high-powered offense.
If that wasn’t enough he’s already familiar with the city, the organization, the coaches, and his potential teammates. He fills a position of need and while he’s on the north side of the age range of the rest of the Spurs young core he’s still young enough that he could be part of the future that the Spurs are building.
The only problem is the amount he is likely to command on the open market. As an unrestricted free agent coming off of a great season, Bertans is going to be one of the most sought after free-agents this summer. Depending on the DeRozan situation, that could price him out of the Spurs range.
However, if San Antonio has even the slimmest chance of bringing the Latvian Laser back to Texas they have to jump at the chance.
Next: Bleacher Report's suggestion
Just earlier this month Bleacher Report made the suggestion that Harry Giles could be a steal for the San Antonio Spurs. We agree. The Sacramento Kings screwed up by declining to pick up the versatile forwards option for this upcoming season. They’ve opened the door for other teams to storm in and now it’s time for the Spurs to pounce.
From the end of his time in high school, through college, and now into the pros, injuries have dogged Giles at every step of his journey. But it looks like he’s finally getting healthy. Meanwhile, his perceived value has been hurt by all the injuries, making signing him to a relatively cheap deal a real possibility.
In San Antonio, Giles could function as a secondary initiator of the offense as well as a mid-range/post scoring presence. As much promise as White and Murray have shown as point guards, neither quite look ready for carrying the vast majority of the offensive load on a nightly basis. Adding Giles into the mix would help the Spurs throw a variety of looks at opposing defenses as well as take some pressure off of the two main point guards on any given night.
He doesn’t help with spacing the floor right now but his solid performance from the free-throw (76.7 percent from the charity stripe last year) line would indicate that there could be a little bit of floor-spacing to his game that just needs to be unlocked.
Next: A home run swing
This is the least likely to happen and would be the hardest to pull off but let’s go into it anyway. The San Antonio Spurs should absolutely be taking a home run swing at Brandon Ingram if they can this summer. They have every reason to go for it and very few reasons not to.
First and foremost, Ingram should win Most Improved Player this season. He took a leap in his first season with the New Orleans Pelicans, making his first All-Star Game, and he should receive legitimate All-NBA consideration. He’s a lethal scorer, able to get buckets from anywhere against anyone.
That’s what the Spurs need more than anything right now. DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge were there at one point but both are heading into the other sides of their prime, with their best years in the rearview. Ingram is just the opposite. He’s a rising star who could lead the Spurs attack every night.
The Spurs cadre of young guards have all shown promise but only Lonnie Walker shows potential as 20 points per game scorer and we’re still a ways away from knowing if that is a possibility. Even if it is, given their positional differences there is little reason that Walker and Ingram should not be able to coexist in the Spurs starting lineup.
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He knows how to navigate the line between setting up his teammates and hunting for his own shot. He’s not some shot chucking vacuum, he will help the rest of the Spurs offense run through him when necessary and flip the switch and take over when called upon.
The Spurs offense could finally transition into the modern age with a lineup centered around White, Walker, Murray, Ingram, and Poeltl. That lineup would have the offensive and defensive versatility, as well as necessary floor spacing, to help the Spurs transition from a team in the middle of the road to promising up and comer.
In all likelihood, the New Orleans Pelicans are going to offer the Ingram the max he deserves this summer. But why wait? If DeRozan leaves and the Spurs have the cap space, offer Ingram the max. If he accepts, great! If the Pelicans match, okay fine. You’ve just backed them into a deal that they were likely to do anyway.
They’ve got a lot of work to do to get back into the upper reaches of the Western Conference but signing any one of these three free-agent forwards would help the Spurs get on their way back to glory.