Spurs free agent move highlights intelligent forward-thinking strategy

As free agency is set to begin, the San Antonio Spurs had decisions to make regarding their roster and extended offers to two players while letting Dominick Barlow walk.
Sandro Mamukelashvili
Sandro Mamukelashvili / Ronald Cortes/GettyImages

It's almost time for free agency to begin, and the San Antonio Spurs should be players in the market. This team needs depth and shooting badly. There was hope that the team would address the shooting ailment in the first round of the draft, but that didn't come to pass. Now fans turn toward the next big opportunity to add pieces around Victor Wembanyama, and it starts at 5:00 pm CT on June 30.

But first, the Spurs had to make some decisions about the players on their roster. Several guys were waiting for decisions about their future to be made from the front office, and yesterday, those decisions were made when the Spurs extended offers to Sandro Mamukelashvili and David Duke Jr. but let Dominick Barlow walk.

The Spurs made the right decision

It is easy to like Barlow, he showed noticeable growth from his rookie to sophomore campaign. Barlow played with hustle, paid attention to details on defense and challenged shots at the rim. There is a lot to like. But he doesn't space the floor, and ultimately, the bigs need to be more versatile on the offensive end.

As mentioned by a longtime Spurs writer, Tom Osborn, San Antonio could bring Barlow back in free agency, but the chances of that are slim. He played well in limited minutes last season. Other teams likely took notice, and when you release a player into the wild, he may not come back, but that's okay. Mamu is the more important piece to this puzzle.

It took all season for the Georgian-born big man to get on the floor with Victor Wembanyama last season but when he did, the passing in Wemby's game opened up even more. Mamu immediately knew how to play off Victor; he spaced the floor well and made perfect cuts to provide an outlet for when double teams came.

Coach Popovich talked about his adulation for Mamu on several occasions while also lamenting his inability to find him minutes. It was frustrating because everyone knew that Pop had the power to just put the man in the game. When he did, it was obvious that Vic and Mamu should have been playing together all along.

Barlow is a tough loss; he's only 20 and showed immense growth in a short period of time, but for this roster to improve, there are going to have to be sacrifices and the Spurs have always been willing to make the tough call to level up—just ask George Hill.