San Antonio Spurs: 5 Things to do the minute free agency begins
3. The Spurs must obtain another stretch big if Collins stays
If things go as expected and Collins stays with the Eastern Conference Finalists, the Spurs need to go into backup plan mode immediately. The biggest free agent name that fits the bill of a stretch big man other than Collins is probably 7-foot Chicago Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen.
When I went to Spurs fans on Twitter to ask what they'd do as acting Spurs GMs this offseason, Lauri was a common name to come up. "If Atlanta matches, sign Markkannen at around $15 million a year," said fellow Air Alamo writer Dylan Hunter Carter. "Immediately go after Kelly Oubre and Markkanen," said @JustWingIt75.
There's certainly intrigue to bringing in someone like Markkanen. He's a career 37 percent 3-point shooter coming off a 40.2 percent shooting year from distance on 5.8 attempts per game. He also averages 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game and is only 23 years old. Plus, our friends at Da Windy have stated Lauri's departure is inevitable and the Spurs are interested.
Still, the serious defensive issues I've noticed in the Finnish forward's game give me pause. I don't think he would be a bad option for a decent price, but I'm more inclined to go with someone with more defensive toughness, championship experience, and tenacity. Someone like Bobby Portis fits the bill.
Granted, Portis could use some work in the rim protection department. As Roberto Araiza pointed out for us recently, his blocks per game have never been impressive. Still, he has a 7-2 wingspan to disrupt attackers and enough intensity to show up in that area when it really matters most.
It might take a pretty penny to pro someone like Portis from the defending champions, and the Spurs certainly shouldn't go crazy if they extend an offer, but he's definitely worth a look. If he falls through as well, Markkanen would be a decent option as well.