The San Antonio Spurs just saw their season come to an early end yet again for a second consecutive season in the form of a first-round playoffs exit. Despite pushing the second-seeded Denver Nuggets all the way to a Game 7, San Antonio would eventually come up short, and are now headed to another early summer vacation.
One things is clear: the Spurs are no longer the perennial contenders they once was just a few years ago. Sure, head coach Gregg Popovich is still at the helm, but at this point, he is the only remaining piece from the dynasty that have won no less than five NBA titles in the past two decades.
Be that as it may, there’s just no point in living in the past and reliving past glories. Moving forward is a must, and if the Spurs want to improve on their rather mediocre performances — by their extremely high standards, of course — over the past two season, then they will need to keep busy this summer.
So, what exactly are the most important things the Spurs will need to focus on in an offseason that could define the team’s outlook for the foreseeable future?
Focus on Youth
The Spurs are not exactly the most marketable team in the league, and despite their impressive collection of silverware, San Antonio still does not stand out as a prime landing spot for free agents. This being the case, it will be highly unlikely that the Spurs will be able to recruit a big-name signing in the free agent market.
Salary cap is another issue for the team, as they currently do not have much room to sign a top free agent at a premium price. Even if San Antonio are somehow able to perform some miraculous salary cap maneuvering to free up enough space — something that is highly unlikely — most free agents will still prefer the big market teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers or the New York Knicks.
In this respect, the Spurs will therefore need to focus on developing their younger guys. Given their current roster, this is not going to be an issue at all, as the team has a lot of promising youngsters currently in the fray. And who better to tap the potential of these young studs than the great Gregg Popovich?
Highly-touted rookie Lonnie Walker IV, Derrick White, and promising shooting guard Bryn Forbes are three players on their current roster that could come up big for the team in the 2019-20 season.
Re-sign Rudy Gay
Veteran wing Rudy Gay was a revelation for the Spurs this season. In his second year for the Spurs, the 32-year-old averaged 13.7 points (on 50.4 percent shooting), 1.1 three-pointers, 6.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 0.8 steals, and 0.5 blocks in 26.7 minutes per contest. Sure, this was a far cry from the scoring machine he once was, but at the very least, Gay has shown that he has gotten over the Achilles injury that he suffered a couple of seasons ago.
Gay’s contract will expire in the summer, and it will be in the best interest of the Spurs to sign him to an extension at the soonest. He was paid $10 million in the recently concluded season, and if San Antonio are able to somehow re-sign him on a discount, then this would be a steal. It will be unlikely that the Spurs will be able find a like-for-like replacement for Gay at the same price, so this should be a no-brainer for them.
The Spurs suffered a big blow prior to the start of the 2018-19 season with point guard Dejounte Murray suffering an ACL tear that would require him to sit out the entire campaign. Reports pertaining to his rehabilitation have been promising, and all signs point to him being ready for the start of training camp for the upcoming season.
Murray was expected to have a big year following the departure of the legendary Tony Parker, as the 22-year-old was going to be handed the starting job. At this point, the Spurs will need to do everything in their power to ensure that Murray is able to return at full strength, and hopefully, live up to the high expectations the team have on him.
All in all, it’s pretty much going to be a status quo summer for the Spurs, with no major shakeups in the team expected. Nevertheless, this will still require a lot of work for them to pull this off, so they best get working as early as now.