San Antonio Spurs: 4 Low-risk veterans who could fill "spark plug" role
By Jared Greenspan
Let me guess, you just looked at the title picture and are second-guessing if I know what the San Antonio Spurs need next season. I don't blame you! But let's be clear here, we all know what the Spurs' core needs are for next season: Shooting, defense, and hopefully, a power forward that fits within the 19-24ish timeline of the team's young nucleus.
This article is not that. If you want to read about great shooters in free agency or the draft, check out these Site Expert articles by Josh Paredes and Roberto Araiza. You'll notice I'm leaving defense out. That's something I might have to tackle in a later piece.
What this piece is about are the wildcards. Wildcards for the Spurs to fill a very particular role: a backup "sparkplug." What do I mean by spark plug? I'm talking about the guys who can get microwave hot and can carry a team with their scoring and playmaking. It's a role I feel that is slowly dying as teams consistently feature just one or two guys handling the ball with the rest spread out around them.
The thing is, this role is as important as ever in today's NBA because, to state the obvious after this year's playoffs, stars get injured. That's when having a guy that normally plays either a small role or no role at all who can go from fringe player to budding star becomes so incredibly valuable. I don't think most viewers were expecting a "Lou Williams Game" or "Terrence Mann Game" during these playoffs given their normal roles for their current teams, but here we are.
The Spurs need someone in this role. I don't even think it's up for debate if we're being honest here. Derrick White was a scoring and playmaking hub this year until injuries robbed him at the tail end of the year, and that discounts the 25 games he missed prior to that.
We all know Dejounte Murray has missed near seasons at a time given his injury history, as has Lonnie Walker, the guy most Spurs fans are hoping can channel his inner Manu and provide some much-needed playmaking and scoring off the bench.
Despite his role as the team's best playmaker and scorer at the moment, there are plenty of cons to bringing DeMar DeRozan back. If the Spurs could find a low-risk guy who is cool rarely playing except for when needed to become an offensive focal point, I think there are plenty of win-win scenarios for both the team and the players worth exploring.
Before I jump into the list, here's one honorable mention.
This one can't be too surprising right? By all accounts, Williams is looking to return to Atlanta for a larger and more consistent role than the Spurs could provide him.
However, if Lou Williams was ever willing to take more of a backseat so the Spurs could focus on the younger guard cadre, his microwave skillset has been shown to steal games in the absence of injured stars. Just ask Milwaukee.