The San Antonio Spurs have stumbled into the holiday season with a 13-game losing streak and the worst record in the Western Conference, and it feels like the end of their cold spell is nowhere in sight. Despite making some of their opponents sweat in recent matchups, it is crystal clear that this young squad must make drastic changes if they hope to get back on the right track. They will soon be able to do just that.
General Manager Brian Wright and the front office re-signed or extended numerous familiar faces this offseason, including Julian Champagnie, Tre Jones, and Sandro Mamukelashvili. Bringing that trio back for another go-round in the 2-1-0 made sense, but the Spurs will have a chance to move them elsewhere for players who fit better alongside Victor Wembanyama when league-wide trade restrictions lift later this month.
San Antonio signed Julian Champagnie to a four-year, $12 million contract in July after he strung together an outstanding stretch over the final week of the 2022-23 season. While the second-year wing struggled to maintain that rhythm entering his second campaign with the Spurs, he finally broke out of his shooting slump, averaging 13.3 points while sinking 55.5% of his threes over the last three games.
The collective bargaining agreement stops teams from trading free-agent acquisitions until December 15th or three months after signing, whichever date comes later. Champagnie falls under the first category, which means the Spurs will be able to start working the phone lines soon. However, the likelihood of San Antonio moving a promising young role player in the heat of a rebuild seems slim to none.
Mamukelashvili inked a minimum contract with the Silver and Black, which puts him in the same position as Champagnie. Though he was a staple for Gregg Popovich at the end of last season, the arrival of Wembanyama has decreased his place in the pecking order. The 24-year-old center has only suited up for seven games thus far, with practically all his minutes coming exclusively in garbage time.
Charles Bassey has supplanted him on the depth chart, leaving his future with the Spurs up in the air. San Antonio cannot hold onto every prospect that strolls through their doors, and they could toss his name out in trade talks and see what teams are willing to offer in return. Mamu probably has mimimal value around the league, so it wouldn't be shocking if he remains on the roster past the deadline.
The Spurs can also move Tre Jones in the near future, though he belongs to a distinct subset of players. San Antonio is not allowed to trade the 23-year-old floor general until January 15th since they used his bird rights to re-sign him to a deal that exceeded a 20% raise over his previous salary.
Regardless, as their only traditional point guard and best facilitator, there is no incentive for the front office to cut ties with Jones. The offense runs smoother when he steers the ship. Most importantly, Wemby has been at his most effective when sharing the floor with the former Duke standout.
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