Was the Spurs' Signing of Doug McDermott the Right Call?

Doug McDermott
Doug McDermott / Justin Ford/GettyImages

In one of the more understated offseason moves, the San Antonio Spurs added veteran sharpshooter Doug McDermott to the roster on a three-year, $40 million contract. That’s a lot of cheddar, but for fans of 28 NBA teams, the move went under the radar and might have been forgotten about altogether. Only Pacers fans (McDermott’s former team) and Spurs fans were in the know.

Despite being an under-the-radar move, it proved well worth it for the rebuilding Spurs for a moment. He averaged the most attempts from deep in his entire career and had one of the most efficient seasons in his tenure. He paired well with players already on the team. Jakob Poeltl set a career-high in assists, and he found McDermott more than anyone else. 

Despite the clear positive addition on offense and in the locker room, McDermott was the worst defender on the team, with the exception of Bryn Forbes. Honestly, Joe Wieskamp looked better in his minimal minutes, although that may have been just because he wanted to prove himself. Lonnie Walker IV is not known for being a defensive player, but he has quickness and athleticism that McDermott simply does not. 

McDermott's contract was a good fit, but it's not anymore

In a weird way, signing McDermott was a great move by the Spurs, but keeping him for next season would be a massive mistake. They could put together a trade package that would get them even more draft picks to add to their treasure chest, or they could roll the dice on a young player.

Bleacher Report suggested they swap McDermott for Jaxson Hayes and Garrett Temple. Hayes would be a great young piece in the paint for San Antonio. There are many teams in the league that would benefit from a veteran shooter who still has plenty of gas left in the tank, and his contract is not too much of a burden.

There are plenty of internal reasons to move on from Dougie McBuckets as well. In addition to whatever assets the Spurs could get, simply not having McDermott on the roster is also a good thing. When he is on the court, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Joshua Primo, and Josh Richardson might not be getting minutes. Vassell, Johnson, and Richardson are all better players right now than McDermott, and Primo has a similar physique but could bring a much more well-rounded game to the court. 

Simply put, McDermott is a wing. So are Vassell, Richardson, Johnson, and maybe Primo, although his role is still up in the air. There is also Wieskamp and whoever the Spurs draft this offseason, and they should definitely be getting their share of minutes as well. An NBA roster is only so large, and I’m afraid there isn’t room for him when the Spurs have either better or younger players or both. 

McDermott is a well-respected veteran who would not have signed a one-year deal, so the Spurs would have had to have given him a longer contract anyway. They also did not know that they would trade for Josh Richardson or that Keldon Johnson would grow into a legitimate three-point threat. Devin Vassell took leaps as well, so the front office played it safe and assumed McDermott would have a role out of necessity for a few years.

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Fortunately, the Spurs appear to have moved past him. Also, fortunately, they will definitely be able to get some sort of return for him. He’s a good player and he hits his shots, but the Spurs just are ready to take the next step, and he probably won’t be invited.

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