The Next Step: San Antonio Spurs

We’ve got a few days before Game 2 of the NBA Finals, so today we are finishing off our list of first-round teams that were unable to advance in the 2019 NBA Playoffs and looking at what they can do over the offseason to improve their chances.

Today, we take a look at our final team, the San Antonio Spurs, who were the seventh seed in the Western Conference and took the second-seeded Denver Nuggets to seven games, but were unable to get past the first round for a second consecutive season.

The Draft

San Antonio currently owns the 19th and 29th picks in the first round of the draft and the 49th in the second round. They’ll be looking at adding some extra depth to their rotation and especially players that they can spend time developing in the G League.

The one player that is probably a lock if he falls to #19 is versatile big man Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga. We have him going a bit higher on our Lineups.com Draft Board with Kentucky swingman Keldon Johnson falling to San Antonio.

At #29, there are several swingmen and bigs available. Among the interesting candidates that could fall to 29 are wing defender Matisse Thybulle from Washington, KZ Okpala from Stanford and possibly Bruno Fernando of Maryland.

If the Spurs can get him with their second-round pick, they seem to have eyes for Croatian Luka Samanic, but they may also have to take a flyer and select him at the end of the first if they don’t expect him to fall all the way to 49.

There are several options at every pick for them, and there has also been some talk of trading up, but we’ll see later this month how serious they could be about trading up to get someone they may really covet that could make an immediate impact.

Free Agency

San Antonio doesn’t have a ton of money to spend, so their best option will be to re-sign Rudy Gay, who had a great year in his second season in San Antonio. If they can bring Gay back to add some depth to the frontcourt, then they will have the full mid-level exception available to them to use.

With that, they can look at strengthening some weaknesses like a need for an athletic wing defender and adding some depth up front to go along with LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poetl, especially if they don’t address those needs in the draft. An athletic rim defender would be ideal and a nice fit with what the Spurs currently have in place, but teams tend to overpay for those positions. Kenneth Faried did well with Houston and has probably added some value because of his time there, so he could be one option. Taj Gibson is also a nice option, but he would likely have much more lucrative options than the midlevel.

Other Options

The Spurs are adding a key piece to their lineup next year without having to go through the draft or free agency, and that’s point guard Dejounte Murray. Spurs fans were excited about Murray’s growth before the team lost him for the season during the preseason, so getting him back along with the improvement of Derrick White in the backcourt and with Lonnie Walker IV coming back for his sophomore campaign should be something to watch in the backcourt.

The Spurs can also offer DeMar DeRozan a four-year extension on July 6. By doing that, they likely sign him for under market value and lock him up, but that’s also committing four more years to him and he’ll complete that contract in his mid-30s. There have been some talks about the Lakers possibly being interested in DeRozan and trading their first round pick and possibly adding a current player. That could offer the Spurs some salary flexibility, but they’d likely have to get enough in return that they’d be able to stay competitive.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs made it 22 consecutive playoff berths this year, and they will be looking to make it to number 23, but they’ll need to continue building through the draft and free agency to make a deeper run.

  
Michael is Chief Editor at Lineups.com. He has decades of combined experience in traditional print journalism and online media and is the publisher of the Project Spurs Network, which includes 13 team-specific sports media sites and the flagship ProjectSpurs.com. He is also the creator of the first Spurs podcast and the longest-running sports podcast on the internet, the Spurscast, and was formerly the host of the News 4 San Antonio Sports Roundtable.

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