Feb 1, 2020; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills (8) celebrates a shot by center Jakob Poeltl (25) in the second half against the Charlotte Hornets at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
Which player should the San Antonio Spurs be focused on bringing back?
Since their season wrapped up, a lot of the excitement and coverage around the San Antonio Spurs has been focused on their upcoming high pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
After enduring one of the toughest seasons in recent memory the Spurs will have their highest pick since 1997 in this year’s draft. Selecting 11th, San Antonio will have an excellent opportunity to add a young player to their roster who can help right away.
The draft is going to be a crucial part of the Spurs offseason but it’s not the only way they can add talent. They could create a little wiggle room to make some moves in free agency but their free-agent moves will likely be more confined to just bringing their guys back.
DeMar DeRozan’s player option is the biggest free agency question mark right now but there’s really nothing the Spurs can do to influence his decision on that. No matter what he does they’re still going to have to make some crucial decisions on who they bring back to fill out their bench.
Here are our rankings of the San Antonio Spurs free agents and why the Spurs should or shouldn’t consider bringing them back.
Next: Lowest priority
Feb 8, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Marco Belinelli (18) warms up before a game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Should the San Antonio Spurs consider bringing back Marco Belinelli?
Marco Belinelli caught a lot of flack from San Antonio Spurs fans for his subpar defense this year. It wasn’t undeserved but defense has never been Belinelli’s strong suit. He’s there to knock down three’s and keep the ball moving and that’s about it.
He’s getting up there in age but Belinelli still has his touch from behind the arc. He played well in the bubble. The Spurs were getting out and running, pushing the pace and creating plenty of opportunities for Marco to prove his worth. He was knocking down close to 40 percent of his shots and flowed smoothly with the fast-paced offense that the Spurs were using.
If his bubble performance alone was enough to convince Spurs fans that he’s still got it, recent videos showing Marco working on his game this summer should help reassure us that he can still contribute.
— JeffGSpursZone (@JeffGSpursZone) October 17, 2020
Bringing Belinelli back should by no means be a priority for the Spurs. But if they’re unable to get another free-agent shooter to come to San Antonio there could be some value in re-signing him to a one-year deal to serve as an insurance measure off the bench.
Next: Second highest priority
Mar 8, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Bryn Forbes (11) dribbles the ball past Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton (2) during the first half at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Should the San Antonio Spurs bring back Bryn Forbes?
San Antonio Spurs fans seem pretty divided on what the team should do with unrestricted free agent Bryn Forbes. Like Belinelli, Bryn does bring valuable 3-point shooting to the Spurs lineup. But again, like Marco, he’s an absolute sieve on defense.
We’ve touched on this before but any deal that brings Bryn back to San Antonio should be made with the understanding that he’s going to have to adapt to a different role. He’s started in almost every game the team has played over the past two years but it’s time for Forbes to embrace the role he’s better suited for as a second unit scoring option.
Derrick White and Dejounte Murray proved that they can coexist and thrive as the Spurs starting backcourt. White’s shown that he can bring the 3-point shooting that San Antonio needs in their lineup so there’s really no need for Bryn to remain a fixture with the starters.
He can still help the team out, 40 percent shooters from behind the arc will always be valuable. But if he comes back San Antonio needs to do a better job using him in spots where his abilities will bring the most return and his weaknesses won’t hurt the team as much.
Re-signing Forbes shouldn’t be a priority but it shouldn’t be completely off the table either. If the team can come to an agreement on a two or three-year deal that gets Forbes the money he deserves and slides him into a new role there’s no reason not to bring him back.
Next: Highest priority
Aug 13, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Nigel Williams-Goss #0 of the Utah Jazz passes against Dejounte Murray #5 of the San Antonio Spurs and Jakob Poeltl #25 of the San Antonio Spurs during the third quarter at The Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports)
San Antonio Spurs need to prioritize re-signing Jakob Poeltl
With LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles out, the San Antonio Spurs leaned on Jakob Poeltl heavily during their time in Orlando. He’d already proven that he was deserving of an extension with his impressive play throughout the season but his final few games were an excellent restatement of why he’s so important to the Spurs.
This year Poeltl showed that he can be one of the best rim protectors in the league if he’s given the opportunity. He ended the season among the top-ten in the league in total blocks despite playing significantly fewer minutes than the other players you’ll see in the top-ten.
He’s not purely focused on protecting the paint either. Poeltl is one of the better pick and roll big men in the league and showed that he can thrive in those situations. He’s a firm screen setter and he’s got a real nice touch inside that helps him rack up points near the rim. Spurs fans were frustrated by what seemed like a refusal to dunk the ball in Orlando but there’s no denying that Poeltl’s got the touch in the paint.
One area of Jakob’s game that doesn’t get the appreciation that it deserves is his improving ability as a passer. It’s not something that jumps out at you when you watch him play but Poeltl’s gotten pretty good at finding cutting teammates for easy baskets. He posted career highs in both assists (1.8 per game) and assist percentage (13.6 percent) this year and should continue to improve in that area.
He’s a crucial part of the San Antonio Spurs and we should all hope that they start treating him like it. He’s made it clear that he’s very open to playing for another team if the Spurs don’t increase his role and who could blame him? He’s improved in both years that he’s played in San Antonio but his role hasn’t changed accordingly.
As a restricted free agent the Spurs will have an opportunity to match any offers that Poeltl gets but they shouldn’t wait to make that move. Sign this man to an extension as soon as possible.
All of these free agents can help the San Antonio Spurs but bringing Jakob Poeltl back should be the priority. If the Spurs have room to re-sign Forbes and Belinelli they should consider it but only after they’ve paid the man in the middle.