At the conclusion of the 2019-2020 NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs had a record of 32-39 which placed them at 11th in the western conference and 19th in the league. The Spurs finally broke their record-breaking playoff streak, missing the post-season for the first time since 1997. While this may present as a disappointing season, and it was, there were plenty of positive stories to come out of San Antonio in 2020. The Spurs have a talented group of young guards in Dejounte Murray and Derrick White that showed promising development throughout the season. These young guards also showed tremendous promise defensively, showing signs of becoming future all-defensive guards. The Spurs also didn’t lose much of their culture of a team built around players who are selfless and play for each other and to win rather than individual statistics and accolades. Unfortunately, there were some alarming signs coming out of San Antonio this season. The team slipped defensively, despite being led by legendary coach, Gregg Popovich, with a defensive rating in the bottom third of the league. Most would expect this to bounce back next season, but it is an alarming sign, nonetheless. The Spurs are famous for not making trades and I don’t expect this to change so if they are going to improve for next season, they will be relying on internal development, intelligent drafting, and key signings.
Currently, the San Antonio Spurs have nine players with guaranteed contracts for the 2020-2021 NBA season. Tyler Zeller and Chimezie Metu have non-guaranteed salary which I expect to become fully guaranteed shortly, however Zeller could be waived if the Spurs plan to bring back their restricted free agent centers. DeMar DeRozan has a $27.7 million player option which he has now opted into. DeRozan is an important player but had a disappointing season by his standards and with very few teams having available cap space, it would be too much of a risk to enter free agency when he can opt into a contract of that much value. Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks will be restricted free agents along with two-way player, Quinndary Weatherspoon. The Spurs will also have a couple of unrestricted free agents in Marco Belinelli, Bryn Forbes, and Nikola Milutinov. Milutinov is yet to sign his rookie scale contract and his cap hold will remain on the books unless the Spurs receive permission to remove it. The Spurs project to have the full $9.2 million mid-level exception available to them as well as the $3.6 million bi-annual exception.
Depth Chart –
The San Antonio Spurs will enter free agency as an over the cap team once DeRozan opts into his player option. There will be few signings to make during free agency for the Spurs due to having no available salary cap and they are unlikely to make any trades based on their history of making very little moves. Their top priority will be on resigning their restricted free agents, Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks. Both players are still quite young and are showing signs of strong development. They will also be key to maintaining some depth at the center position which they desperately need. The Spurs will also look at using their mid-level exception to sign on of their unrestricted free agent guards in either Marco Belinelli or Bryn Forbes. It is entirely possible the Belinelli will choose to retire due to his age and his slow regression throughout the past few seasons. On the other hand, Bryn Forbes is quite young and has shown very promising development over the past two seasons and has become a key guard off the bench for the team. With most of their team already signed to contracts, the Spurs will not have to make any signings other than this and will have a full roster over the salary cap going into the 2020-2021 NBA season.
The San Antonio Spurs will have the 11th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. The Spurs do not have a track record of trading their draft picks so it is more than likely that they will use this pick to draft another young talent to add to their roster depth. The Spurs have a group of young guards and centers already so they will be in the market for a wing or forward that can provide defence and shooting off the bench and grow with the team over the next several seasons. With the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs should look to select Devin Vassell, a 6’7” shooting guard/small forward out of Florida State. Vassell has shown tremendous development between his two college seasons and would be able to contribute in the NBA immediately. He is an incredibly athletic wing that can contribute to both ends of the floor. He has shown enough of a sample size to project that he will be a consistent three-point shooter in the NBA and uses his length and athleticism to get steals and blocks on the defensive end. While he does struggle to create his own offense and needs to improve his free throw shooting, he fits the culture of the Spurs and will be able to slot in nicely on the wing coming off the bench.
The San Antonio Spurs are coming off their worst statistical season in two decades, missing the playoffs for the first time since 1997 and falling to the bottom third of the league in defence. Furthermore, this could be Gregg Popovich’s final season coaching in the NBA and I’m sure he will be looking to go out with one final playoff appearance. With San Antonio’s history of making very little trades, they will have to improve through internal player development. With a solid core of young guards and venters, they do project to improve next season providing we do not see too much regression from DeRozan and Aldridge.
Projected Depth Chart 2020/21 Season –
Players IN: Devin Vassell
Players OUT: Tyler Zeller, Marco Belinelli, Nikola Milutinov
Trade Potential: LaMarcus Aldridge