How will the San Antonio Spurs respond to the loss of Trey Lyles?

PORTLAND, OREGON - FEBRUARY 06: Trey Lyles #41 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts in the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Moda Center on February 06, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OREGON - FEBRUARY 06: Trey Lyles #41 of the San Antonio Spurs reacts in the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers during their game at Moda Center on February 06, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
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Trey Lyles will miss the rest of the season for the San Antonio Spurs

The hits keep on coming for the San Antonio Spurs frontcourt. The first blow came when it was announced that LaMarcus Aldridge would miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on his shoulder. That was a hefty blow to the already shallow frontcourt but this most recent development will on further hurt the Spurs playoff chances.

Gregg Popovich told reports this afternoon that Trey Lyles will miss the remainder of the regular season with appendicitis.

Lyles was signed in the aftermath of the deal with Marcus Morris falling apart and was largely viewed as a solid low-risk addition but not one who would make too much of an impact in his first year in San Antonio.

Flash forward and he’s taken over the starting center role and brought a new floor-spacing threat to the San Antonio frontcourt. Replacing him in the lineup won’t be easy.

What do the San Antonio Spurs do without Trey Lyles in the lineup

This is a tough injury to endure for the Spurs. They did sign Tyler Zeller as an insurance policy after Aldrdige went down but even with his addition to the team, many expected the majority of the minutes to be split between Lyles and Jakob Poeltl.

Without Lyles in the rotation, Zeller, Chimezie Metu, and Drew Eubanks will all have to step up more. For Zeller, this is a great opportunity to continue working on regaining his position in the league. He’s expressed hope that these final eight games can give him the handhold he needs to pull himself back into the NBA and the minutes that will now be opened up in Trey’s absence should help him do that.

For Eubanks and Metu, this is a chance to prove they’re ready to graduate from playing in Austin and become role players for the Spurs next season. San Antonio’s frontcourt is aging fast, both Rudy Gay and Aldridge are approaching unrestricted free agency next summer and the team will have to carefully evaluate if the two fit into the team’s plans for the next few years.

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Metu and Eubanks could step in to fill their roles but so far neither has gotten a real chance to prove themselves in the NBA. They combined to play just 200 minutes this season before things were suspended. With Lyles out for the rest of the regular season, it’s not out of the question that the two would get close to that mark in Orlando.

Jakob Poeltl could be the biggest beneficiary here. With Lyles and Aldrdige out he’s the only true big man the Spurs have left who’s played serious minutes this season. Zeller has the NBA experience and Metu and Eubanks have familiarity with the rest of the team but no one can replace Poeltls combination of the two. San Antonio is going to lean on him heavily throughout these final games.

He won’t be able to replicate Trey’s offensive contributions but Poeltl can emerge as one of the team’s most impactful players in this final stretch. The advanced numbers already support his case as one of the team’s best young stars but he can really make a strong impression on the front office with a strong showing in Orlando.

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This is a real bummer for both the San Antonio Spurs and Trey Lyles. But it’s on the next man up to step in and be ready. Let’s hope Tyler Zeller, Chimeize Metu, and Drew Eubanks are up to the task.

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