NBA All-Star Weekend is over, and it's time to end the honeymoon and circle back to reality. Simply put, the San Antonio Spurs are a very middling team. The players know it, the front office knows it, I know it, you know it, and the Heavens above know it.
Do they have a shot at the play-in? Yep! Do they have the ability to somehow end up in the first round of the playoffs? Yes, they do. Do the Spurs have the ability to string together a series of wins against better teams and end up contending for a ring though? No. I don't see any avenue for this team to realistically contend for anything besides a first-round exit.
This isn't new to anyone though. After the roughest start to a season in probably 20 years, the Spurs find themselves in a decent yet tricky position post-All-Star break. They sit near the bottom of the Western Conference, hold their own 1st round pick as well as two other possible picks via a slew of trades at the deadline. A possible $30 million of cap space is waiting at the finish line, and the Spurs have shed multiple players, including Derrick White, for draft capital.
With this taken into consideration, when do the Spurs look at having the talk with Dejounte Murray? He is playing his heart out, but at a certain point, these games become inconsequential to the outcome of the season. If the Spurs slip further and further down into the lottery, do they present the idea of rest to Dejounte, someone with an injury history, instead of playing heavy minutes in games that may end up being for naught?
The Decision should lie with Dejounte himself
I frame this as them presenting it to Dejounte instead of insisting because he is just that type of player. He is your cornerstone at the moment, and he has the right at this point to play 48 minutes a night or 0. He is very proud, a massive hustler, and seemingly puts every ounce of effort possible into this team.
He truly does "block out the noise" that has been said about the Spurs being mediocre and plays like a borderline superstar every night for his team. The question of rest should be at his discretion alone as it's been earned many times over.
I pose this question with the caveat that it will almost certainly not happen. Dejounte wants to be by his boys, and Pop wants to win. This is just more of an exercise of thought while subliminally bragging on the work ethic of Dejounte that he has displayed since his first appearance in the Silver and Black.
Say it were to happen. The minutes would probably be split between Josh Primo and Lonnie Walker, and this could be very beneficial to the team in the long run. The fans would get to see Primo's chops as the lead ball-handler for the big club while the front office would get to see more of Lonnie's value as restricted free agency is hanging over his head.
The streaky guard hasn't shown that he is worthy of an extension yet, but Dejounte's rest could allocate more minutes to find out once and for all what Lonnie is all about.
It's fun to think about, but realistically this is just a fantasy. Dejounte won't rest whether we like it or not. He is just a voracious baller. He craves the big moments, the workload, the pressure, and the deniers.
While the rest may be somewhat beneficial to his health and the team, it should be just as comforting to Spurs fans seeing their young star out there on the court every game putting his entire heart onto the court.