NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
The Spurs played 3,496 minutes last season.
Just 275 went to lineups comprised entirely of 26-and-under players.
This was a team with Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Jakob Poeltl, Lonnie Walker and Devin Vassell under the age cutoff. All the deep reserves were younger, too.
That ratio ought to change this season.
After missing the playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in franchise history, San Antonio is finally starting a new chapter.
The Spurs didn’t re-sign notable veterans DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills, Rudy Gay or LaMarcus Aldridge (who got an early exit with a buyout last season). Though obviously not nearly the same caliber of player, Mills kept a three-decade run of San Antonio having David Robinson, Tim Duncan or Mills on the roster. Only Udonis Haslem (Heat), Stephen Curry (Warriors) and Klay Thompson (Warriors) had longer active tenures with the same team. With the professionalism displayed by Mills and other vets, the Spurs built a revered culture of stability.
In its first 43 seasons, San Antonio either made the playoffs or drafted a multi-time All-Star (Alvin Robertson, Robinson, Sean Elliott and Duncan). The book is still out on Vassell, the No. 11 pick last year.
The new candidate: No. 12 pick Joshua Primo.
I was higher than most on Primo but still rated him just No. 20 on my board. The youngest player drafted this year, the 18-year-old is highly intriguing.
San Antonio also added No. 41 pick Joe Wieskamp (No. 30 on my board) and plenty of future draft capital. The Spurs got a first- and second-rounder from the Bulls in the DeRozan sign-and-trade, a second-rounder for helping the Pacers create a trade exception and another second-rounder for taking Chandler Hutchison‘s unwanted salary.
Zach Collins (three years, $22.05 million, though just $10,675,000 guaranteed) was a surprisingly expensive flier. The 23-year-old has been derailed by injury and remains sidelined. But if San Antonio didn’t have better use for its ample cap space, Collins was at least once interesting and is still young.
The Spurs also got a more readily available big, 25-year-old Jock Landale, out of Australia on a minimum contract.
With Gregg Popovich as coach, the Spurs still have a chance to overachieve and sneak into the playoffs. They rightfully aren’t completely throwing away a chance to compete in one of the 72-year-old’s remaining seasons.
To that end, San Antonio added Doug McDermott (three years, $41.25 million) and Bryn Forbes (one year, $4.5 million). Upgrades to one of the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting teams, the shooting specialists should make everything flow smoother. Maybe that translates to winning, but it should at least put the young Spurs into better positions to develop.
Thaddeus Young, acquired in the DeRozan deal, was pretty good last season. Popovich could make nice use of him as a skilled big.
Young (33), McDermott (29) and Forbes (28) don’t fit the youth movement. Neither does Al-Farouq Aminu (31), jetsam in the DeRozan sign-and-trade. San Antonio has already waived Luka Samanic, the No. 19 pick in 2019.
The Spurs aren’t running into the future.
But they’re gradually moving that way, a welcome identity for a team that appeared too close to directionless.
Offseason grade: C+