When the clock strikes 5 pm in Texas on Monday, the San Antonio Spurs better be hard at work. Free agency officially begins at that moment, and plenty of teams will have interest in their leading scorer last season, DeMar DeRozan.
After having an NBA Draft in which the Spurs opted to likely stash for the future in the first round by selecting Joshua Primo, the pressure is on GM Brian Wright to make some changes. After two straight seasons of missing the playoffs, it's quite clear this team doesn't have enough to be a real threat as constructed.
The biggest change the Spurs could make to kick off their summer would be finding another destination for DeRozan through a sign-and-trade. Otherwise, he may well just walk for less money and a better chance at winning elsewhere, leaving the Spurs with no return.
In Zach Lowe's post-draft free agency special with guest Bobby Marks, the two broke down the latest speculation on possible landing spots for the four-time NBA All-Star. Here are the teams they mentioned and what they had to say about each.
New York Knicks
"The Knicks opening up an extra $2.5-$3 million in cap space struck me as very interesting," said Lowe. "I think they've got some plans. Are they a DeRozan team?"
Recently, Paul Garcia of Project Spurs broke down that the Knicks "can still have up to $53.5 million in cap space if they let all other free agents walk." Now, that figure is a bit higher after draft night.
"[They're] a team we should probably circle when we're talking about DeRozan. It depends on what his ask is going to be. If they want to go out and get him, they can do it."
Los Angeles Lakers
"Before everything happened, the Lakers would've been a possibility," said Bobby Marks. Of course, he's referring to the agreed-upon deal that netted Los Angeles Russell Westbrook from the Wizards. "But then you're asking San Antonio to cooperate," continued Marks. "We can throw them off the list."
"We can throw out a team like the Clippers. They don't have any money to go."
Again, Paul Garcia broke down just how unlikely it would be for the Clippers to obtain DeRozan without some major sacrificing.
"Even in a situation where Leonard and Ibaka declined their options and signed elsewhere, the Clippers would still only have the $9.5 million non-taxpayer exception to offer DeRozan."
He also explains that even a sign-and-trade would be tough for the Clippers. "A sign-and-trade type of deal would likely mean the Spurs would have to agree to take multiple role players from the Clippers and the L.A. would be hard-capped for the remainder of the season."
The Chicago Bulls "would have to go through hoops to create room" for DeRozan, says Bobby Marks. Zach Lowe couldn't really see the fit, given the defensive struggles the Bulls already have. Financially, it doesn't look likely that Chicago could come up with enough money for DeMar.
As it stands, the teams that could afford DeRozan's services outright seem to be dwindling, but the two seemed to agree that the Knicks are in the best shape financially. We'll have to wait and see what happens as free agency kicks off on Monday evening.