Tyler Zeller is aiming to stay in the league with the San Antonio Spurs
High-quality players falling out of the NBA is nothing new. With just 510 active roster spots available the competition is tough and many players have spent years bouncing back and forth between the G-League and the fringes of an active roster. So when the San Antonio Spurs brought on Tyler Zeller for the remainder of the regular season you knew he was going to fight tooth and nail to make it last more than just eight games.
Zeller most recently played for the Memphis Grizzlies back in 2019 but had bounced around the league since being drafted by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2012. He played in just six games in 2019 and wasn’t on a roster at all this year but when the San Antonio Spurs were looking for frontcourt help, Zeller was there to answer the call.
In the wake of LaMarcus Aldridge’s shoulder surgery, the Spurs were desperately looking for frontcourt help. They’ve got Trey Lyles and Jakob Poeltl to rely on but outside of those two, they’ve only got unproven players such as Drew Eubanks and Chimezie Metu to help shore up their rotations. Adding Zeller was a necessary precaution.
The Spurs might view Zeller as a simple insurance policy but recent comments from the former Tar Heel make it clear that he’s thinking about a possible future in San Antonio.
Tyler Zeller thinking about potential future with San Antonio Spurs
While on a recent conference call with local media, Zeller talked about joining the Spurs and what he brings to the team. Jeff Garcia with News 4 San Antonio was one of the first with the report on what Zeller had to say about joining one of the most storied franchises in the league.
“Hopefully, I can find my way into this team, really just find my way again. The Spurs are a first class organization, I’ve been here for workouts before. I’ve always enjoyed seeing them from the outside and now being a part of it from the inside is something I really look forward to and I’m very excited about.”
Zeller can use these final eight games of the regular season as an extended audition for a longer deal with the Spurs. San Antonio does have the aforementioned young players such as Metu, Eubanks, and Poeltl but that could be changing soon.
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Poeltl recently surprised Spurs fans by saying that he’s open to exploring the possibility of playing for other teams if it means stepping into a larger role. The news, while unsettling, shouldn’t be that much of a shock.
Poeltl emerged as one of the leagues’ most impressive young, defensive-minded big men, and should be in line for a serious minute increase here in Orlando. But if that doesn’t result in the Spurs signing him to a long term extension, with the assurance that he’s going to have a larger role somewhere he soon down the line, you can’t blame him for looking for other options.
If that’s the case, signing Zeller to a modest one or two year deal wouldn’t be the worst option for San Antonio. That’d obviously be contingent on Zeller playing well in Orlando but he could fill a similar role to what Poeltl does well, would likely be happy in a backup role, and would come at a fraction of the cost.
Signing Zeller shouldn’t be a priority for San Antonio by any means, but keeping him around past the end of this season could be an option if things with Jakob Poeltl go sour.