Spurs now have promising young free agent targets thanks to Thunder

Nov 30, 2022; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gestures to
Nov 30, 2022; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA; San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich gestures to / Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

The San Antonio Spurs revamped their roster this summer, drafting Victor Wembanyama, trading for Reggie Bullock and Cameron Payne, and re-signing Tre Jones and Sandro Mamukelashvili. While the front office opted to sit out of the bidding wars for big-name free agents in favor of making in-house moves and minor transactions, they still have avenues to continue retooling before opening night.

After sending Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Jakob Poeltl across conferences to launch a full-throttle rebuild last season, the Silver and Black have bolstered their talented young core with tried-and-true veterans to provide leadership and depth insurance. Those aging role players might not fit the long-term timeline, but their presence could facilitate development on and off the hardwood.

General Manager Brian Wright has been calculated with every decision he has made over the last few years, and his opportunistic approach has helped the Spurs amass valuable draft capital while adding multiple intriguing prospects via the waiver wire. With clubs cutting players to meet league mandates, San Antonio could capitalize on the Thunder releasing TyTy Washington and Usman Garuba.

Spurs should already be on the phone with Washington and Garuba

Washington and Garuba can sign with any team in the NBA after clearing waivers, and it seems likely that each player will be available for a minimum contract since they are still trying to forge careers in the NBA. The Spurs would be wise to invest in these youngsters while their value is at an all-time low, especially considering it would cost them next to nothing to sign them off the open market.

Though neither of them were significant contributors for the Houston Rockets last season, they were stellar for their G League affiliate. Washington and Garuba displayed encouraging flashes of brilliance when Stephen Silas handed them cleanup duties in blowouts, but they were often buried under Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Jabari Smith Jr. as the franchise prioritized development elsewhere.

Garuba might be hard-pressed to earn minutes with San Antonio since they have Zach Collins, Victor Wembanyama, Charles Bassey, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Jeremy Sochan, and Dominick Barlow sitting atop their frontcourt rotation. However, Washington would have a chance to jockey for backup duties as the Spurs determine whether Devonte' Graham or Cameron Payne can lead the bench unit.

The rookie point guard was the engine of the offense for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, averaging 24.5 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game while shooting 44% from the field last season. He has a smooth floater, a developing three-point stroke, solid court vision, and he could offer San Antonio a much-needed size upgrade over their shorter second-string floor generals.

The Spurs are over maximum capacity, but they could sign Washington to their final two-way contract without displacing anyone on a standard deal. While the odds of the Kentucky product becoming San Antonio's point guard of the future are slim, manufacturing a competitive environment could promote individual growth from the position with the most question marks heading into the season.