Nov 23, 2019; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Marcus Morris Sr. (13) reacts after a call in front of San Antonio Spurs guard Derrick White (4) at Madison Square Garden. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)
Most of the free-agent market has passed us by, but the San Antonio Spurs still have a roster spot and a bit of cap space to fill and solid options remain.
It’s not unusual to see the San Antonio Spurs wait for the initial free-agent rush to pass. Once the moratorium was raised, the vast majority of the league’s vacant roster spots were filled. Nearly every team added a new player, but the Spurs seem to be running it back with the same group as usual. They went 1-for-3 in their previous free agency class with DeMarre Carroll failing to materialize and Marcus Morris Sr. pulling out of his agreement.
This year, San Antonio seems to be ready to stand pat, but there’s no downside to taking a shot on a new player. They already decided they’re interested enough in Cameron Reynolds, their latest Exhibit-10 contract recipient. Gauging talent and maximizing opportunities are essential to the San Antonio Spurs’ wheelhouse.
Don’t get me wrong — there are plenty of valuable players still out there. It’d be completely unsurprising to see Bryn Forbes and Marco Belinelli find new homes on short-term, low-cost contracts. However, they seem to have run their course by this point and it’s time for general manager Brian Wright to pivot with his remaining cap space.
These players are prepared to contribute to a lineup in positions of need during the 2019-20 season.
Next: Another big from Toronto
Jan 12, 2020; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; San Antonio Spurs forward Rudy Gay (22) goes up to make a basket against Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) at Scotiabank Arena. (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
RFA Chris Boucher brings a different approach to the San Antonio Spurs.
First thing’s first — Toronto is likely to lose out on both of its bigs as Serge Ibaka heads to LA and Marc Gasol mulls his options in free agency. As a restricted free agent, Chris Boucher is next in line to have any offer matched by Masai Ujiri and the Raptors’ front office. Still, it’s worth exploring the conversation for the San Antonio Spurs’ sake.
This team’s centers are relatively traditional. Despite his 3-point revelation, LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t a modernized player and Jakob Poeltl is as traditional a center as there is. Adding some spunk to the center rotation with someone like Boucher gives San Antonio a unique insurance policy for its frontcourt in case injuries arise or the team finds itself in garbage time.
However, that’s only to start. There’s potential for Boucher to work his way up in the rotation to a consistent 20-minute per night contributor. Between his effort, hustle, rebounding and interior roaming ability, Boucher approaches the game in a unique fashion. He’s a girt-and-grinder who’s not afraid to put his body or his pride on the line to compete. In that sense, he’s similar to a free agent who the Spurs can’t afford by this point in free agency; Aron Baynes.
Advanced stats need context to supplement the data, and obviously this doesn’t mean he was the best defender on his team, but Boucher led Toronto in defensive rating last season. That weighs heavily considering Toronto allowed the fewest points per game of any team last season. There’s more than meets the eye with Chris Boucher. And yes, he’s the guy DeMar posterized for the Spurs’ dunk of the year in his second trip to Toronto since the trade.
Next: Picking up another former Nugget
Feb 10, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV (1) drives to the net against Denver Nuggets forward Torrey Craig (3) in the second quarter at the Pepsi Center. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
San Antonio Spurs benefit from UFA Torrey Craig’s heart and hustle.
If you frequent our work here at Air Alamo, there’s a chance you’ve already heard my spiel about Torrey Craig, but the story evolved today. According to multiple reports, the Denver Nuggets recisnded their qualifying offer for Craig, making him an unrestricted free agent at 29-years-old.
Denver has pulled the qualifying offer on forward Torrey Craig, which allows him to become an unrestricted free agent, source tells ESPN. The Nuggets have valued Craig, but ran out of roster spots for him.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 21, 2020
Craig didn’t take kindly to the fact that his team let go of him which bodes well for the way he’ll move forward. Consdering the energy and passion that Craig plays the game with, he’d scrap at every opportunity to make an impact with his next team and the San Antonio Spurs have the the capacity to make that happen.
No love ??
— Torrey Craig (@TCraig_23) November 21, 2020
For as much defensive effort Craig brings to the table, his offensive game is pretty shaky. San Antonio also has a history of helping guys like that discover their offensive identity and there’s plenty of competition to go toe-to-toe with. Signing Craig made a lot more sense before Devin Vassell was drafted, but he’s a decent replacement for the two guys that are presumably heading out the door in Belinelli and Forbes.
A one-year flyer wouldn’t hurt anyone and quite frankly, San Antonio has nothing to lose here.
Next: One man's trash is another man's treasure
Feb 23, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Pau Gasol (L) talks with Denver Nuggets forward Juancho Hernangomez (R) before the game at the Pepsi Center. (Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports)
RFA Juancho Hernangomez brings a bit of what the San Antonio Spurs lack.
The version of Juancho Hernangomez we saw in the final 14 games of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ season was a changed man. His shooting stroke was confident, his defense was slightly improved and the 25-year-old flashed the potential his former team never helped him realize at the NBA level.
Unfortunately for him, a return doesn’t seem fully likely at this point after the T-Wolves allocated their cap space elsewhere. Selecting Washington forward Jaden McDaniels signalled a shift in the opposite direction for the team. McDaniels looks to be a ball-handling four with upside as a scorer, passer and mutli-layered defender.
In his 14 games with Minnesota, Hernangomez posted 12.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and a steal in 29.4 minutes per contest. The Spaniard made roughly 45 percent of his field goal attempts and drained 2.1 threes per game at a 42 percent clip. It was impressive to see Hernangomez tap into his game as a catch-and-shoot 3-point marksman and it’s something San Antonio can help him see through.
Like Boucher, the Minnesota Timberwolves can match any offer Hernangomez accepts and take priority. Given the low number San Antonio would have to put on the table, there’s a decent chance it gets matched by the Wolves. Still, there may not be much more need for Hernangomez after revamping the team a bit this offseason.
Next: The ultimate rehabilitation project
Feb 8, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; Sacramento Kings forward Harry Giles III (20) smiles towards fans during the fourth quarter against the San Antonio Spurs at Golden 1 Center. (Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)
If the San Antonio Spurs can’t tap into Harry Giles’ talent, no one can.
There was once a significant contingent of NBA fans and spectators who say Harry Giles‘ high school mixtapes and believed he’d be the next great player. I can’t blame them — Giles was on that path until injuries abliterated his hopes at growing stock in college and evidently stunted his NBA development. Now Giles sits at a crossroads looking for his next move after being banished to Sacramento in the NBA Draft.
Picking Giles off the free agency market and coaching him through the early stages of his NBA career would be fantastic to watch. Although the San Antonio Spurs just re-signed two players that play his position, the chance that Giles strikes in silver and black is well worth clogging the position a tad.
The Sacramento Kings and Harry Giles will part ways, according to multiple league sources.
Unclear where he is headed, but his time in Sacramento has come to an end.
— Tankmichael Dave (@CarmichaelDave) November 21, 2020
A 6-foot-11 big with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Giles’ athleticism and raw, untapped talent make him a deadly player worthy of a chance to succeed at the next level. With fewer than 1500 minutes played at the NBA level, the jury’s still out on a player once destined for greatness. Everyone’s path to success comes about differently and Giles may have been on a slower track than his peers, but the Spurs’ guidance can help him become a full-time rotation player nonetheless.
At times, we’ve seen Giles be a shot-blocker, dime dropper, pick pocket, floor general, ferocious athlete and a 3-point shooter. If only a team with roster space and a little bit of extra cash decided to bring in someone with potential that far outweighs any of their other options for that spot.
Next: Reliable as they come
Dec 31, 2019; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Glenn Robinson III (22) attempts to score as San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (5) defends at AT&T Center. (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)
San Antonio Spurs capitalize on the market by signing Glenn Robinson III.
Seeing wing/forward Glenn Robinson III slip this deep into free agency without being linked to anyone feels a bit absurd. A consistent offensive player with effort and physicality on defense, Robinson isn’t a 3-and-D player like he’s pegged as. Robinson’s athleticism far outweighs that of your average spot-up shooter and his defensive style works better within the confines of a team.
Regardless, Robinson’s been around this league long enough to know how to contribute to a team without being written into the gameplan as a primary option. If he finds himself open for a 3-point shot then, by all means, Robinson can be trusted to take the shot. Still, shoehorning him into the 3-and-D category is a lazy reaction as Robinson’s skill set extends beyond just that.
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However, Robinson is a career 37.3 percent shooter from deep coming off his best 3-point shooting season ever with 77 makes on 39.1 percent. Standing at 6-foot-6 with a decent physical profile, Robinson does a good job of muscling up against opposing wings while using his verticality to contest shots off the dribble and on the drive.
He’s not going to blow anyone away, but would be thrown into a bench rotation to help alleviate some pressure from young players and show them how it’s done. I wouldn’t imagine anything lasting beyond just a year and having Robinson on the roster provides another game-ready player in case this group ends up being in or somewhat close to the postseason conversation.
Given their lack of movement and a rather timid approach thus far, one can’t bank on getting back to the playoffs anytime soon. However, picking up key players with final roster spots is one way for the San Antonio Spurs to rebuild their status as a respectable and valiant basketball franchise.
It’s only a matter of time at this point.