After back-to-back trips to the play-in tournament, the San Antonio Spurs are well positioned to retool their team for playoff contention this summer. Making that kind of leap won't be easy -- especially in the ever deep Western Conference -- but if the Spurs nail both phases of the approach they should be able to pull it off.
Phase one happens later this month with the NBA Draft. Armed with three first-round picks, including the ninth overall pick, San Antonio is ready to load its roster with new talent or package a few picks together to try to move up and get their man. Either way, they're leaving with something.
Perhaps more important is what the Spurs do after the draft. Adding talented first-round picks is important, but if San Antonio wants to cement its position in the playoffs, there's a need for star-level impact players who can contribute right away -- not a few years from now. This makes San Antonio's plans for approaching the free agent market more important than ever before.
Should Spurs offer a max contract to Zach LaVine or Deandre Ayton?
If the Spurs go star hunting, their best two options are clearly Zach LaVine and Deandre Ayton. Both young stars will be free agents this summer and both are sure to have their fair share of offers. It's going to take a max contract to swing them away from Chicago and Phoenix, but if the Spurs are willing to splurge, they should be able to make a compelling case for why the next phase of these players' careers should be in south Texas.
It's going to take some financial gymnastics to create the cap space needed to interest one of these stars (and there's no way San Antonio can afford both). So which one, if either, should the Spurs be interested in? Let's break down the case for each star free agent.