Before the start of the last offseason, I said this: “This is going to be the most intriguing, most intriguing offseason in San Antonio since 2015.” Well, a year later, I’m repeating that sentiment. After a 34-48 season and a second straight play-in loss in the first round, the San Antonio Spurs are once again gearing up for the offseason before the playoffs even begin.
This year has seen an abundance of personal and team growth, and a number of solid building blocks beginning to unfold, which should give fans hope that the current three-year playoff drought will end sooner than expected. Last summer, I wished that Brian Wright, RC Buford, Gregg Popovich, and the rest of the front office were aggressive in their approach to team building, and I’m happy to report that they did just that. Since beginning free agency last August, Spurs have accumulated three first-round picks, six seconds and some young, talented players. They now have the resources to go in any direction they choose, be it option A: redeeming a player or option B: slowly building the draft.
The first season of the rebuild was a success because it laid the groundwork for this franchise to decide how they wanted to go about making this team a contender again. Now the next few months will show us which way they will go: A or B .
This year’s NBA lottery takes place on May 17th and will be the Spurs’ most anticipated lottery since the 1997 edition when they got the No. 1 (which later became Tim Duncan) and the rest was history. San Antonio has the best ratings they’ve had since, but still not good enough anywhere where a number one is likely. They have a 20.3% chance of a top 4 pick and only 4.5% shoot for first place. The Silver & Black have two more first-round games to decide as well, as Toronto and Boston are both tied with other teams in overall tally. These tiebreakers are decided by a coin toss. The Raptors selection will be either 20 or 21, while the Celtics will be between 23 and 25. They also have the Lakers second round sitting at No. 38, but the Cavaliers have the Spurs second round at No. 39.
Forecast: With only a one-in-five chance of moving up, May 17 ends with the Spurs picking No. 9, which would be their highest pick since Duncan and their third straight lottery pick to compete with those top-20, top -30 and top 40 picks to keep up as they are acquired by other teams.
After figuring out which numbers they will pick, Spurs have until June 23 to decide who to pick and whether to keep all four draft picks. In years past there have been many rumors of San Antonio’s preliminary draft moving up and down the board, but nothing has come to fruition and they have persisted. Will this year be the year they finally do a draft day trade?
Forecast: The Spurs retain their ninth overall pick, trading one of the later ones for future draft compensation. With 8 guaranteed contracts on the books for next season and another four non-guaranteed contracts, the Silver & Black don’t have much room to maneuver if they actually add four new rookies to the top 40, three of which would require guaranteed contracts if they weren’t draft and stashes. If they move away from one of their picks, there’s a good chance they’ll get similar compensation (two future first-rounders) as the OKC Thunder did when they traded a middle first-rounder just last year.
This year’s Free Agency begins July 1 at 5:00 PM CT. Last offseason, the Spurs had the second-highest cap spot in the league at over $50 million, but unfortunately it was a very lackluster free agency league. Once again they are forecast to have the second-biggest amount of money, but again there will be a lack of talent available, with only a few notable names on expiring contracts. San Antonio could spend over $30M if they decide to let Lonnie Walker IV run and not bring back some of their non-guaranteed deals (Zach Collins, Tre Jones, Jock Landale & Keita Bates-Diop).
Forecast: With up to four top 40 picks and a slew of young, talented guards and wings in this year’s draft, I think Spurs are letting Lonnie go and investing in their rookie class. They also guarantee Collins, Jones and one from Landale or Bates-Diop. This will see Silver & Black spend around 30 million in which they will aggressively pursue one of the best free agents including Zach LaVine, Deandre Ayton, Bradley Beal or Miles Bridges to add a 1b to Dejounte Murray’s 1a.
There are two Spurs eligible for a rookie extension this summer, Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones. Both have one year left on the contract they signed after the draft. In the last three years, the Spurs have awarded two rookie extensions: Murray’s 4 years/$64 million and Derrick White’s 4 years/$72 million. Last summer, they decided not to offer Walker a deal, allowing him to play out his rookie contract and become a limited free agent this August.
Forecast: Spurs agree a deal in the 4-year/$75-$85 million range with Johnson just ahead of the new season, while Jones is allowed to play out his rookie deal and become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2023.
Questions about the legendary head coach’s retirement have raged since the 2014 NBA championship, and they began to intensify this season after Coach Pop broke the all-time winning record and appeared to have very little, if anything, left in the sport. In his final press conference of the season, Gregg Popovich was asked about his future, in which he replied, “That question is inappropriate,” leaving the rumor mill open to speculation.
Forecast: The 2022-23 San Antonio Spurs head coach is … Gregg Popovich for the 27th straight season. With Becky Hammon being Pop’s favorite and choosing to leave and coach the Las Vegas Aces, all directions seem to point to Pop staying here to continue imprinting his knowledge on this new, fledgling Spurs group.
If one thing is for sure, this will be another exciting off-season for everyone focused on Silver & Black as they head into the second year of the rebuild. Be sure to keep watching Pounding the Rock this summer as we bring you the latest and most in-depth Spurs content thanks to our outstanding team of writers and editors.
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