Should the Spurs pursue Kristaps Porzingis in free agency?

Kristaps Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages

The San Antonio Spurs have developed a reputation over the years for relying more on drafting and player development and less on chasing big-name free agents. Part of the reason is that there aren't many stars clamoring to play in San Antonio, though a few have been open to doing so in the past.

Now that the Spurs are in a full-on rebuild, the idea of the team using their considerable cap space to sign a big-name player probably hasn't crossed many fans' minds, but it's at least possible. The Spurs opted not to use most of their cap space from the summer and still have around $28 million remaining ahead of the trade deadline. While that doesn't necessarily suggest that the Spurs will be active in this summer's free agency, it doesn't suggest that the opposite is true, either.

The Spurs have long been linked to Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis, with his former team, the New York Knicks, even alleging that the Spurs tried tampering in hopes of eventually landing him. Years later, the Spurs may have their chance.

Why the Spurs should consider signing Porzingis

Just a year ago, the thought that the Spurs would want Porzingis might've seemed silly given that he underperformed expectations with the Dallas Mavericks. He's managed to revive his career in Washington, however. Porzingis is averaging 22.2 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks and has reestablished himself as one of the best big men in the NBA. More importantly, he's managed to stay healthy thus far--something that he hadn't proven that he could do in Dallas--and he's only 27 years old.

That should at least pique the Spurs' interest, but that interest may be conditional. The team currently has the fourth-worst record in the NBA, and if that holds, then they'll have only a 12.5% chance of landing the number-one overall pick and selecting center Victor Wembanyama. Being in a position to draft Wembanyama would be great, but odds are that the Spurs won't be, so they must have a Plan B in mind. That Plan B tentatively appears to be Jakob Poeltl, but he could be traded if one team meets the Spurs' high asking price.

If he is traded, then the Spurs would need a new starting five, and Porzingis could be an option that they consider. Of course, he wouldn't come cheap, and signing him to a massive 4-year deal is still risky given his injury history. Both of these factors could deter the team from signing him, with the Spurs instead considering stop-gap center options until they find their next long-term starting center.

That stop-gap center could very well be Zach Collins, who has played well this season and has mostly stayed healthy since making his team debut last January. The Spurs could also take a look at a cheaper and younger free agent center such as Naz Reid, who has been very productive as both a starter and a reserve for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season.

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All in all, the Spurs could have an interest in Porzingis, but the cost as well as injury concerns may keep them from pursuing him. Instead, they could keep Poeltl or look to the draft and free agency for less expensive center options.