After a playoff streak that will likely never be matched again, the San Antonio Spurs have been stuck in limbo for the past couple of seasons. For some, it's been an understandable rebuilding process. For others, it's been the sign of a front office that's completely given up. Given the dramatically different approach Brian Wright and Company took this summer, I think it's safe to say the latter isn't true.
While the San Antonio Spurs weren't able to snag a bigger name like John Collins, they were markedly more active in acquiring talent to surround its budding core while shedding some talented but out-of-place veterans. In doing so, the Spurs are likely in for at least one more tough season before being set up once again for a free agent class that'll be even bigger than in 2021.
I don't think the Spurs had a perfect offseason, but given my concerns for them being satisfied with the roster as constructed, I think they addressed that about as well as I could've hoped. The biggest problem for the past couple of years has been the stunted growth of guys like Lonnie Walker and Devin Vassell in favor of veterans like DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay. Now, it's the young guys' time to sink or swim.
Former VP of Basketball for the Memphis Grizzlies and writer for The Athletic John Hollinger recently suggested why the Spurs did it all right this summer. In a column about several teams going into a win-now mode (subscription required) in the NBA, he discussed how many of the big-name teams right now are setting themselves up for rough times in a few years with their recent moves.
Although warranted in most cases, costly extensions will end up handi-capping teams near the middle of the decade, says Hollinger. Guys like Steph Curry, Jimmy Butler, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant will all be in their mid-to-late 30s at the start of the 2024-25 NBA season.
Again, this isn't to say none of these guys deserve these kinds of contracts. Obviously, they're all big-time players. But as Hollinger says, age catches up to everyone eventually, as it did with the Spurs when The Big Three finally had to call it quits.
What the Spurs did from 1997 to 2019 was an extreme anomaly, as franchises tend to usually go through cycles of competitiveness and rebuilding much more often. Luckily, the Spurs have set themselves up nicely for the next decade.
Hollinger goes on to say that many teams are setting themselves up for a decline by the middle of the decade while only a few teams are looking at achieving more long-term success. The teams he singled out along with the Spurs were the Grizzlies, Thunder, Magic, and Raptors.
"Like a storm over the horizon, it's coming," said Hollinger about the impending declines of the big players right now.
Such is life in the league unless you happen to have a dominant trio for 15-plus years. Welcome back to the regular life cycle of an NBA franchise, Spurs fans. Be patient and this team will eventually make you a believer once again.