San Antonio Spurs: Play, sit, or let go, 2022 edition
Gorgui Dieng, C
The Spurs acquired Gorgui Dieng for essentially nothing by using money saved from parting with LaMarcus Aldridge. Crafty move, front office. As the team's only big man capable of knocking down threes, Dieng has value for a team looking to finally catch up to the rest of the league with outside shooting.
Gorgui is currently on a $1M expiring deal and is the third big on the roster behind Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks. While I'll get to Eubanks' role going forward a little bit later, here's a hint: I think Dieng should be given a legitimate shot at being the second option.
Tre Jones, PG
On the outside of the Spurs' young core looking in, Tre Jones is ready for a leap next season. Of course, whether that happens or not depends on what happens with Patty Mills this offseason. Mills is the lone survivor of the 2014 championship team and brings unmatched heart and soul, but is that enough to keep his backup point guard role? More on that later.
At the same size as Mills, Jones offers much more defensively while lacking what Patty brings offensively. But at 21 years old, Tre's basketball career is just getting started. The Spurs have now had two losing seasons in a row. Holding onto Patty in a primary role going forward might be doing more of a disservice to a team that needs a full cleanse. It's time for Jones to take a step up next season.
Trey Lyles, PF
Let's keep this one short. For whatever reason, Trey Lyles hasn't seen a minute of playing time since March 24th and was nearly traded at the NBA trade deadline. I'd be very surprised if the unrestricted free agent sees one more minute in Silver and Black, as the Spurs seem to have their minds made up.
Verdict: Let go
Luka Samanic, PF
After two seasons of development, I have a feeling Luka Samanic is seeing next season as his "play me or trade me" year. I have no inside information to speak of, but I feel like there are no excuses for the Spurs to keep the 21-year-old glued to the end of the bench for a third straight year.
With his promising rotation defense and ability to drive and shoot, Luka has developed a bit of a cult following among Spurs fans. Still, veterans and the young core have been preventing him from getting any meaningful playing time to get into rhythm.
There's a reason San Antonio locked the Croatian forward through the 2023 season, and I think next season is when we'll finally start to see more Luka Mania.