The Spurs were looking for a veteran, reliable backup to play behind Kawhi Leonard. They went first with Corey Maggette, but that didn’t work out.
So now they are trying Josh Howard — the Spurs just signed him to a non-guaranteed contract, reports the San Antonio Express-News.
This is a roll of the dice by the Spurs, but a low risk one at the veteran minimum price. Howard is coming off a second knee surgery in the past three years and while he has worked to get back to the Association there are serious questions about how much he can contribute. Last season the injury-plagued Timberwolves tried to give him a shot but cut him loose a month later.
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It is likely (as suggested by the Express-News) that the Spurs will turn around in the next week and waive Howard, then as one of the last three cuts by the team he can be assigned to the Austin Toros of the D-League. There they can see if he still has enough game left to help the Spurs out.
Vintage Howard would be a great scoring wing off the bench — he has a career 14.3 points per game average and was a All-Star back in 2007 (when he was with Dallas) because he could fill it up. The Spurs could use a guy like that… if Howard is still a guy like that.
Corey Maggette said over the weekend that if he couldn’t make the Spurs roster — and it was a long shot going in — he was going to retire.
Tuesday the Spurs announced they have waived Maggette.
This looks like the end of a 14-year NBA career. In those years Maggette was a solid overall player who brought one elite skill to the table — he could draw fouls and get to the line with the best of them. He led the league in free throw attempts in 2004 and was in the league’s Top 10 in attempts six times.
That fit with Maggette’s physical style of play — he was built for it with some of the biggest arms in the league — but that style also started to lead to physical breakdowns in recent years. He couldn’t stay healthy. Combined with declining skills and he played just 18 games in Detroit last season, 32 in Charlotte the season before that.
San Antonio extended him a training camp invite this season, but with 14 guaranteed contracts on the roster already he was going to have to amaze some people to get a contract. That didn’t happen.
Still, you have to love Maggette’s attitude about the possible end when speaking over the weekend (which is easier when you earned $89 million for your career).
“If I could get an opportunity here, it would be great. If not, this game has been good to me.”
Corey Maggette has played 14 NBA seasons, and has been known throughout his career as a talented offensive player with an above average ability to get to the free throw line.
After a frustrating year in Detroit, Maggette received a training camp invite from the Spurs, though with the team already committed to 14 guaranteed contracts for the upcoming season, he knew going in that making the team might be a bit of a challenge.
It hasn’t yet been decided whether or not Maggette will remain on the roster, but if the Spurs should choose to go in a different direction, it doesn’t appear as though Maggette will be petitioning other teams to give him a shot.
From Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News:
Corey Maggette says he will retire if he doesn’t make Spurs.
Maggette also said he knew the deal coming in to camp. Knows it will be uphill battle. Had no other offers, thought he’d take a stab.
Corey Maggette: “If I could get an opportunity here, it would be great. If not, this game has been good to me.”
The remarks are interesting considering that Maggtte is technically still in the running for a spot, and Spurs management might wonder if this is a sign Maggette isn’t fully committed mentally to going through the grind of a 15th professional season.
The San Antonio Spurs have 14 guaranteed contracts on their roster and they may go into the season with just that many.
But they can add a 15th guy. They have identified a need — a physical three who can play limited minutes off the bench in certain matchups as a backup to Kawhi Leonard — now they just have to find the guy.
Corey Maggette and Sam Young are in a training camp battle for that last roster spot. The San Antonio Express-News got Gregg Popovich to talk about it.
“They’re both big, strong people for the position,” Popovich said. “We want to see if that fits for us, to have another person there behind Kawhi. Marco (Belinelli) and Manu (Ginobili) can go there, but they’re a little bit slight for some of the teams we’re going to play. I don’t really want to put them in that position very often. If we’ve got another body we think will work well with the team, we might do that. That’s the primary reason we brought those guys in.”
With guaranteed contracts the norm, actual battles in training camp for a roster spot are a rarity in the NBA. (It’s why Hard Knocks for the NBA would never work, it lacks the drama of the NFL cut downs.)
We’ll see how this one plays out. Sam Young played a better role in Indiana last season than Maggette did in Detroit, but neither was very impressive at all. There also is the question of who fits best in the Spurs locker room culture.
Or, the Spurs may just cut them both. At least it is a training camp struggle to watch.
Corey Maggette had a rough season with the Pistons last year. He appeared in only 18 games — none after Dec. 15, for reasons unknown — while putting up career-low averages in points, minutes, and field goal percentage.
Maggette has been known throughout his 14-year career for his ability to score and get to the free throw line as a volume shooter, and could be of value off the bench for a veteran team in need of that specific skill set.
A team like the Spurs, maybe.
From Jared Zwerling of Bleacher Report:
As noted, Gregg Popovich famously and frequently gives his best players nights off during the regular season, in order to keep them fresh for what usually ends up being a run fairly deep into the playoffs.
If healthy and able to accept his role, Maggette could be a key addition to the rotation.
The Spurs signed Marco Belinelli and Jeff
Pendergraph Ayres in free agency this summer, in moves similarly aimed at bolstering their bench.