With the regular season winding down and the San Antonio Spurs unlikely to make the playoffs, the offseason will take on increased significance. After all, the 2022 NBA Draft and free agency may prove crucial to getting the team back to the postseason. They'll have four picks in the upcoming draft, which is certainly useful, but they could also have up to $33 million in cap space.
That will definitely come in handy, but not necessarily to sign star free agents. In fact, this year's list of free agents isn't exactly great but, with some creativity, the Spurs can still use their cap space to improve the team. Let's examine three ways the Spurs should use their cap space this summer.
1. The Spurs should sign value contracts
Having a massive amount of cap space and no big-name targets worth pursuing is definitely ironic, but San Antonio doesn't necessarily need to land a star to have a successful off-season. Instead, the Spurs can scour the free agent market, looking for players that are undervalued, and try to sign them to value deals. That is easier said than done, but the Spurs have a history of signing good players to cheap deals and having them outperform their contracts.
Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw, and Patty Mills come to mind. Mills and Diaw were both underrated when they signed with the Spurs during the 2011-12 season. They were later re-signed to cheap contracts and became key parts of the Spurs' 2014 championship team. As did Belinelli, who was also signed to a bargain deal, which he more than lived up to.
More recently, San Antonio signed Jakob Poeltl and Zach Collins to affordable three-year deals and San Antonio would be wise in resigning Lonnie Walker to a similar contract this summer. Walker will be a restricted free agent and has definitely played better post-All-Star break. In those first 10 games, he averaged a terrific 18.8 points, on 58.3 % true shooting in just 26.9 minutes per game.
Fortunately, for the Spurs, Walker being restricted could scare away teams from even making an offer. That would increase the chances of them bringing him back on a favorable deal while also preserving cap space to potentially sign another free agent to a value contract.