San Antonio Spurs: Play, sit, or let go, 2022 edition

Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills
Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills / Tom Pennington/Getty Images
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San Antonio Spurs
Rudy Gay / Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Rudy Gay, PF

Rudy Gay played very well to end the season and tied DeMar for leading scorer against Memphis, and that has me concerned. Why is a Spur playing well an issue? Well, let's just say I don't want the Spurs' front office to get the wrong idea. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate everything Rudy has done in his four seasons with the Spurs, mainly his ability to get buckets at will and his professionalism.

All that said, it's time for the Spurs to fully move on to a new era. At age 34, Gay still has plenty to offer a contending team should he decide to go that route. There's just not enough opportunity for him to get 10-plus shots up per night off the bench on this squad.

Devin Vassell, Luka Samanic, and Keita Bates-Diop are all ready to take that next step next season, and Gay simply needs the ball too often to be his best self. His tendency to go one-on-one takes shots from others while also sometimes killing the team's momentum. A departure here is a win for both sides.

Verdict: Let go

San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills / Elsa/Getty Images

Patty Mills, PG

There's something comforting about always having a world-class human being like Patty Mills around. We've all been fortunate to see his growth as a player and person, and his stellar play in 2014 helped Tim Duncan retire with a ring for his thumb.

With 10 solid seasons wearing Silver and Black, Patty is one of the offseason's biggest question marks as the Spurs look to re-tool their outside shooting while also give more playing time to the young guys.

While it would feel like a painful split, I feel like Patty is in the same boat is Rudy. He still can offer deadly-eye shooting, endless energy, and an unmatched veteran presence to anywhere he plays. It's just high time that place shifts away from the Alamo City.

While he plays his heart out every single night, the Spurs' defense suffers mightily when Mills is on the court. It's not really a fault of his -- his size just doesn't allow him to contest shots, grab boards, or be switchable. All of these are crucial elements to a team struggling to guard the 3-point line.

Ideally, Patty will be able to sign with a contender much like Bryn Forbes (who had similar issues) did. Then once he hangs them up, the entire city would love to have him back in a coaching role.

Verdict: Let go

San Antonio Spurs
DeMar DeRozan / Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

DeMar DeRozan, SF

While I think a healthy Derrick White is in the conversation, the Spurs' best overall continues to be the man from Compton. DeMar DeRozan is coming off a third straight season averaging over 21 points per game for the Spurs and also led the team in assists per game with a career-high 6.9 this season.

DeMar was also one of the most clutch players in the NBA, finishing with 140 clutch points. Only Damian Lillard (162) and Bradley Beal (150) had more. Still, some see his old-school game as holding the Spurs back from the new era of basketball in which everyone is three-happy. Many also want to completely move on from the Aldridge-DeRozan era that never quite worked as well as expected.

Saying all that, where do I land? Well there's a reason I saved this one for last -- because it's a tough call. On one hand, it's scary to think of this roster without a true closer and go-to scorer in the guts of games. On the other hand, necessity creates opportunity, and I feel like guys like Derrick or Dejounte could ultimately fill that role, if not someone obtained via free agency.

Ultimately, I think the Spurs can make it work well whether DeMar stays or goes. With some pieces added, this team becomes dangerous again under normal season circumstances. That said, I'm leaning toward finding new homes for all three free agent veterans and embracing a completely new era.

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The best-case scenario for the Spurs would be finding a partner to sign-and-trade for DeMar by giving up assets or rotation guys, even if that might be tough. It wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if the Spurs held onto their leader for a bit longer, but I think both sides might be ready to explore new avenues in 2022.

Verdict: Let go