The San Antonio Spurs are about a month from ending the first season of their full-throttle rebuild, and all eyes are on their positioning in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. The front office has ensured the organization is in the thick of the tankathon, but they should already be looking toward the roster decisions ahead of them this summer.
Head Coach Gregg Popovich has struck a careful balance between player development and attempting to field an operational on-court product, and his job is about to become more complex. Though the Silver and Black are home to an abundance of gifted players, they must inevitably say adios to some of them as they reload through the draft and free agency.
With 17 games remaining on their schedule, who might be fighting to keep their basketball career alive to see another NBA season?
1. Romeo Langford
Romeo Langford was an afterthought in the Derrick White trade from last season, seemingly nothing more than a throw-in from the Celtics to make the deal clear financially with the league office. He spent most of his first go-round in San Antonio nursing nagging groin soreness, suiting up in just four games before sitting out their lone play-in matchup.
Before joining the Spurs at the deadline, Langford had finally gained some traction with Boston, earning rotation minutes for a playoff contender. The then-third-year forward carved out a role with suffocating defense and an improved off-ball repertoire, but a myriad of nicks and bruises snuffed out his momentum each time he was on the cusp of a breakthrough.
Unfortunately for Langford, his second year in the 2-1-0 has been more of the same. After cracking the starting lineup for Gregg Popovich to kick off January, an untimely adductor strain placed Romeo on the sidelines for 16 straight games.
Anyone averaging 7.8 points per game on modest .483/.271/.641 shooting splits probably won't turn many heads in free agency, but Langford made tangible progress until another injury struck. Though several clubs should be interested in signing the former lottery prospect, his vast injury history could be a red flag for potential suitors.
The 23-year-old still has time to heal, return to the hardwood, and remind the league that he can make significant contributions. However, when you miss 161 out of a possible 292 regular-season games through the first four years of your career, that lack of durability could leave your NBA future on thin ice.