For the San Antonio Spurs, especially this season, it never hurts to look ahead. Like this past summer, the Spurs will be a team in one of the best shapes financially. As ESPN's Bobby Marks projected in August (subscription required), the only teams likely to have salary cap space in 2022 are the Pistons, Magic, and Spurs.
While the '22 free agent class looks relatively weak overall, there are some valuable players the front office should already have their eyes on.
"If the Grizzlies can't agree to an extension with Jaren Jackson Jr., the Spurs loom as an intriguing option," said ESPN's Zach Lowe in an insider column (subscription required) in late September. While he doesn't report interest, it certainly makes sense that San Antonio would want Jackson.
As an athletic 6-11 big who can run the floor, make exciting plays, and best of all, hit threes, Jackson would thrive in the Spurs' system. Even though Jakob Poeltl is an elite defender, he still doesn't offer much offensively besides the occasional bucket after a teammate's set-up or an offensive rebound.
Drew Eubanks, while a serviceable backup, doesn't seem like a long-term option if San Antonio wants to get back where they need to be. Jock Landale and Zach Collins are still question marks given their limited minutes in the NBA for different reasons.
Averaging 15.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game in his three seasons with Memphis, Jackson would instantly warrant a full-time starting spot in San Antonio if the Spurs were able to poach him away. Still, there are some reasons to have reservations about the pickup.
The Drawbacks to Picking up Jaren Jackson, Jr.
For someone who entered the league at age 19, Jackson's injury list page is -- not great. Out of a possible 228 regular-season games in the last three seasons, he's played in 126, which is about 55%. Even worse, the most recent injury he suffered was a torn meniscus in his left knee. Having knee issues is always tricky, often leading to a player never being the same on the court.
On top of injury concerns, it's going to cost the Spurs a pretty penny if they want to acquire the services of Jackson. In talks about a possible extension for him from Memphis, Brian Windhorst cited several executives telling him he could fetch somewhere around "a $100-million contract sub-max."
You can head to our colleagues at Beale St. Bears for an opinion on if Jackson is worth that amount, but I'm inclined to think that's a bit high for someone whose health is a concern.
Still, if the Grizzlies aren't willing to give Jackson a payday this season, Jackson is definitely worth a look for what he could potentially bring to San Antonio. He'll only be 23 years old by next season, which is perfectly in step with the Spurs' new timeline. Keep that phone handy, Mr. Wright.