As the NBA Playoffs excite fans around the league, some teams are already looking ahead to the summer. The San Antonio Spurs are coming off a challenging rebuilding season, and they have some options heading into free agency that could dictate whether or not the team has a shot at the postseason next year. However, with an older class of free agents, the Spurs should focus on retaining their young talent and staying patient.
San Antonio should stay away from the top of this free agent class. Headlined by aging stars like Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, and Nikola Vucevic, the Spurs would be making a mistake if they spent substantial money on guys heading toward the tail end of their prime. Most of their free agency decision-making will hinge on who they land in the draft. If the Spurs decide to be big spenders, they must ensure any move they make fits their timeline.
San Antonio will be sitting on around $46 million in projected cap space, giving them the third-most salary cap flexibility in the NBA this offseason. Rather than dole out cash on the free agent market, the Spurs should focus on extending Devin Vassell, re-signing Tre Jones, and keeping together the young core that showed some flashes early this season before the injury bug caught up to San Antonio.
Of course, if an opportunity arises that they can't pass up, nobody is going to bash the Spurs for taking it. But you don't want the Spurs to sign someone like Russell Westbrook, who might help them accumulate a few wins but won't contribute at a high enough level to make a large payout worth it. San Antonio should try to improve their roster by finding some diamonds in the rough or making subtle moves that aren't necessarily eye-popping.
One of those guys is Minnesota Timberwolves Center, Naz Reid. Reid would give them versatility at the center position and complement Jeremy Sochan's game. Another player they could look at is Jevon Carter. The Milwaukee Bucks point guard is a great defender and had a couple of impressive scoring outbursts this season. Carter is one of those players that Gregg Popovich could mold into a serviceable sixth man.
The forward market is relatively thin when looking at guys that could fit the Spurs' timeline. They could go for Jalen McDaniels to add length and defensive versatility off the bench, but that move wouldn't alter the franchise trajectory. I could also see San Antonio looking to add a veteran presence in the locker room, maybe even bringing back George Hill for a role like what Andre Iguodala and Udonis Haslem play for their respective teams. Even then, San Antonio wouldn't magically ascend into the playoffs next season.
Overall, it's hard to look at this free agency class as the Spurs and get excited. San Antonio should stay patient, continue to build through the draft, and make marginal moves in free agency that could help push the young guys along in their development. Spurs fans might be a little impatient after decades of success, but there's no reason to rush this rebuild one season in.