Despite having nearly $35 million in cap space, the San Antonio Spurs have done surprisingly little to improve their team this offseason. That seems to be by design, especially after trading away their best player, effectively hitting reset on their rebuild.
Still, they managed to improve their frontcourt by adding several low-cost players. Those additions probably won’t be enough to offset trading Dejounte Murray, but they could make the team more competitive than most expect next season. Let’s take a look at why the Spurs' recent front-court additions are improvements.
In the lead-up to the 2022 NBA Draft, there were rumors that the Spurs were planning on using their lottery pick on a big man. Their choice, Jeremy Sochan, wasn't the typical top-10 pick since he doesn’t have star potential, but he could develop into an elite role player.
He's already well on his way, considering he's terrific on the defensive end despite only being 19. Factor in his underrated offensive ability, and Sochan should be a capable starter next season, albeit on a rebuilding team.
With Murray gone and Jakob Poeltl and Josh Richardson likely to be traded, the Spurs will need players that can guard, and Sochan can definitely do that. While the team would take one step forward and three steps back, he could be key to the Spurs eventually rebuilding their once dominant defense.
The Spurs recently claimed fourth-year power forward Isaiah Roby off waivers after the Oklahoma City Thunder released him. While picking up a player that was cut by a team with one of the worst records in the league last season may seem like a bad idea, Roby is actually pretty good.
The Thunder simply had no room for him after adding four rookies to their roster, and the Spurs wisely took advantage by picking him up. Roby has two seasons remaining on his contract and is young enough, cheap enough, and talented enough to warrant them taking a flyer on him. He wouldn't be just a prospect, however, and his versatility should help the Spurs next year.
In fact, Roby essentially split time at power forward and center last season and could be asked to do the same in San Antonio. He has the size, length, and skill to capably defend both positions, and his ability to knock down threes will allow him to space the floor on offense.
In theory, he could play the four alongside Poeltl, Zach Collins, or Gorgui Dieng. Or he could play small ball center with Sochan, Keldon Johnson, or Doug McDermott playing beside him. Roby won't ultimately move the needle a ton, but the Spurs might have picked up a rotation player at cost.
Gorgui Dieng signed with the Spurs late in the 2020–21 season after being bought out by Memphis and played well in limited minutes. He then joined the Atlanta Hawks last summer, but he barely played, so now he's back in San Antonio.
At the moment, the Dieng signing is mostly just for depth, but when Poeltl is inevitably moved, the Spurs will have a solid veteran big that can play backup center. He won't replace Poeltl, but he's a capable rim protector who can knock down threes on the offensive end.
As a stop-gap option along with Collins and Roby, the Spurs should be respectable at center post-Poeltl, and hopefully, pre-Victor Wembanyama.
Overall, despite getting worse this offseason, the Spurs may have actually improved their frontcourt, and that should help them compete next season. That being said, it won’t necessarily help them win many games, which may be for the best since it'll increase their lottery odds.