Despite a valiant effort to give themselves a shot at the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs will be on the outside looking in for the third straight season.
The chances of them making it into the playoffs as the 8th seed weren't high, and Gregg Popovich himself had already admitted this team isn't competing for a championship. I think most people can agree with that.
Still, what happens in the 2022 NBA Playoffs could directly impact what happens for them this offseason and beyond. From leading to disgruntled key free agents to setting off chain reactions, three teams faring particularly poorly in the postseason could benefit the Spurs in some way or another.
Let's jump into each team and why.
1. The Utah Jazz
Once at the top of the Western Conference for much of the season, the Utah Jazz fell on hard times starting March 21st. After winning the first game of their six-game road trip, they dropped all five of the rest. They had some pretty brutal losses on that trip, including one to the LA Clippers in which they had a 25-point lead at one point before losing 121-115.
The loss understandably frustrated Donovan Mitchell, as the Jazz already blew one 25-point lead to the Clippers in Game 6 of last season's Western Conference Semifinals.
Warning: explicit language
Utah ended up falling to 5th in the West, and they'll now have to tip off their postseason on the road. More and more, the Jazz are starting to establish themselves as a regular season team that can't get it done in the playoffs, and if that holds true again, the Spurs might just reap a huge benefit.
As I shared from multiple reports by Marc Stein recently, Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder has been floated around as a name to watch to be Coach Popovich's successor if he became available.
One of Snyder's first professional coaching gigs was with the Spurs' affiliate, the Austin Toros, from 2007 to 2010. Since then, he's established himself as a brilliant coach that's been able to lead the Jazz to six straight postseason appearances. Of course, as a coach still under contract for an unrevealed amount of time, Snyder has since addressed the rumors, calling that type of speculation "disrespectful to the teams that are mentioned themselves" (subscription may be required).
Still, the Jazz have failed to make it past the second round in five straight postseasons, including when they were the first seed in the West last season. While Stein has since reported the Jazz have been trying to extend Snyder even further to no avail, another playoff flameout could lead to him wanting to explore other avenues.
Quin would be a seamless fit with the current Spurs squad, and I have a feeling Coach Popovich would be open to stepping down if he decided to move on from Utah.
Unfortunately, Luka Doncic straining his calf in the regular season finale against the Spurs will probably mean he'll miss most or all of the first round for Dallas. With that turn of events, the Jazz will probably advance at least to round two, but that has been their ceiling every year since 2007.