With a wide pool of free agents available this offseason, the San Antonio Spurs need to strike while they can and go after these marquee players.
It’s known that the San Antonio Spurs don’t have a whole lot of money to play with this offseason, but that might not stop them from going out and acquiring an influential free agent in 2020.
Considering the financial ramifications of the 2019-20 NBA season suspension, players might have to sacrifice big paydays for long-term financial security this offseason. Free agents who’d normally get big paydays thrown at them could be obtained at a lower price tag than they may have under a more normal situation.
Meanwhile, San Antonio is in dire need of a boost to propel itself back into the playoff picture. The team is sitting outside of the playoffs for the first time in 22 seasons. and they’ll need all the firepower they can get for next year. Head coach Gregg Popovich has holes to fill in his lineup—particularly at the small forward, power forward and center positions.
The 2020 NBA free agency class has some players who fly under-the-radar that the Spurs would be wise to swoop in and sign. More specifically, some players fit their needs while remaining flexible in their timeline and needs. There are valuable veterans who can slot in at multiple positions on one end of the spectrum and projects who can develop into high-level scorers and role players on the other.
These three players are great fits for San Antonio and could slot in for the silver and black without taking away from other players in the lineup.
Next: Banking on upside
San Antonio Spurs free-agent targets: Christian Wood, Detroit Pistons
It didn’t take long for Pistons big man Christian Wood to get used to playing big minutes for Detroit after center Andre Drummond was shipped off to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The former UNLV center has bounced around five different organizations since going undrafted in 2015 and has worked diligently to establish himself as a reliable, go-to player for his teams.
Wood stood out amongst the pack during his multiple stints in the G-League before landing in Detroit for the 2019-20 season and has become a marquee player for a franchise direly in need of a boost. However, the Pistons don’t have any rights to Wood after this year and now, he can decide his future after proving that he’s worthy of a significant role in the NBA.
During 62 games with the Pistons, Wood averaged 13.1 points per game on 56.7 percent shooting from the field and a noteworthy 38.6 percent shooting from deep. He’s a skilled rebounder, averaging 14.5 boards per 100 possessions which would rank second on the Spurs of qualifying players.
What stood out the most was his sustained scoring prowess once the keys to the team were handed over to him. Wood posted 22.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and a block over his final 15 games of the season and even increased his shooting percentages in the process. He’s a versatile scorer and an even more versatile defensive player at 24-years-old.
If I were the Spurs, Wood instantly becomes my No. 1 target in free agency this year. I’d do whatever it takes to get him in San Antonio because of his upside, versatility and ability to play both big man positions alongside LaMarcus Aldridge, Jakob Poeltl and Trey Lyles.
Next: Jerami Grant
San Antonio Spurs free-agent targets: Jerami Grant, Denver Nuggets
Everything that the San Antonio Spurs need In a frontcourt player, forward Jerami Grant can provide to them. A lengthy stretch-four who’s not afraid to play up against bigger opponents, Grant is the ideal modern frontcourt player for his floor spacing and versatile defensive imprint on every team he joins.
For the Nuggets, Grant might require a payday greater than what they’re willing to pay him. Denver has a handful of players on expiring deals and regressed from their No. 2 seed performance in the 2018-19 season. This means Grant is going to be up for grabs in the free-agent market and San Antonio should pounce at the opportunity to court him.
In 26 minutes per game, Grant averaged 11.6 points and 3.5 boards while logging 31 percent of his minutes at the small forward spot. He had some unsavory on-court/off-court number this year that would lead the Nuggets to let him walk but under the guidance of coach Popovich and the Spurs, Grant could become the high-level starter that basketball junkies have believed that he could be for years now.
Grant has a player option worth $9.3 million for next season, which is in the range of what should be expected. If he opts out, he’ll likely be looking for a raise that the Spurs would need to maneuver some contracts to make work. Moving off of Rudy Gay and replacing his minutes with Grant would be a major upgrade to the team’s defense and gives the team an added level of depth that they’re sorely lacking right now.
Plugging in a player who can defend multiple positions at a high level while draining 40 percent of his triples would be invaluable for the retooling Spurs.
Next: Betting on a restricted free agent
San Antonio Spurs free-agent target: Bogdan Bogdanovic, Sacramento Kings
In recent years, the Sacramento Kings have obliterated their cap sheet by overpaying for free agent veterans to fill in the gaps for their young roster. That, combined with Buddy Hield’s $94 million contract extension and the looming extension for De’Aaron Fox make it so that the Kings don’t have much ability to extend wing Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s contract without making big sacrifices.
Bogdanovic has been open about wanting a bigger role and rightfully so. The 27-year-old is a talented three-level scorer whose shot attempts went down from his sophomore season to now. Granted the Kings will have the right to match any offer that he may accept, the Spurs could try to lure him away with an enticing contract offer and more importantly, the chance to play for a competent organization that will help him excel.
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San Antonio doesn’t have a true small forward on their roster and Bogdanovic could help them fill that role, pushing DeMar DeRozan back to his natural two-guard position for his presumptive last season with the team. He’s an accurate three-point shooter and a natural scorer who can play off of teammates or command the offense by himself.
Going out and getting a player entering his prime sends the message that the Spurs are ready to compete now. If DeRozan does opt to walk, Bogdanovic is an ideal candidate to join the team because he poses a scoring threat while spacing the floor and fitting in nicely with the likes of Derrick White and Lonnie Walker at the shooting guard and small forward spots.
He’d also be a huge upgrade from starting two-guard Bryn Forbes, whose defense is abysmal despite his deadly three-point jumper.
Throwing an offer his way doesn’t ensure that they’ll get him, but it at least shows the Spurs are willing to go out and take risks in hopes of returning to their former glory.