End Of The Bench

The Spurs roster currently lists 17 names, meaning at least two will be gone come the start of the season. They might even cut three people and start the season with 14 players. We’ll take a look at the players on the edge and try to determine who will probably make the roster. The Spurs cut Dwayne Jones recently, leaving three players with non-guaranteed contracts. 

Malik Hairston 

Hairston appeared in 15 games with the Spurs last season and also played in 30 games with the Austin Toros, averaging 22.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 53.2% shooting and 44.1% shooting on threes. He has also done well during the Spurs four preseason games with averages of 7 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists with 52.6% shooting. However, if he is going to make the roster it will be because of his work on the defensive end. Of the three players competing for a spot, Hairston is the strongest defender, which works in his advantage. Reports from preseason are that he has been solid on that side of the court so far. He is a little undersized for a small forward at 6’5’’ but he has improved his three point shooting and could serve as a shooting guard if the Spurs need one.

Marcus Williams 

The Spurs drafted Williams when he was a shooting guard/small forward combo. Since then he has transitioned more towards a point guard. The Spurs only have two real point guards on the roster, Tony Parker and George Hill, which means that they might be looking for a third as insurance. Williams is big for a point guard at 6’7’’ and can create mismatches at the position but that also means he is a defensive liability against quicker point guards. Through the preseason he is averaging 4.3 points, 1.5 assists, and 2 rebounds while shooting 40% shooting. Williams’ chances of making the team appear slim since he is not a great defender against point guards and his assist total has been low so far.

Curtis Jerrells 

Jerrells, a Baylor grad, played point guard in college but has not helped his chances of makingthe team by shooting 28% and committing two turnovers in 16.3 minutes. He is also undersized at 6’1’’ and many wonder if he is more of a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body. I expect that the Spurs will keep him until the start of the season to give them more point guards on the roster during preseason, allowing Tony Parker to continue resting. Realistically, Jerrells could stick around playing for the Toros but he does not seem to factor into the Spurs plans.

We also must consider Pop’s quote from a recent article by Jeff McDonald in the San Antonio Express-News:  

“The way we look at it, (not filling the final spots) is most likely,” Popovich said, “unless somebody shows you that you are crazy to cut them because they have played so damn well. 

“There’s got to be one or two guys show us we’re crazy to cut them. If they play that well, we’re going to have to keep one or two more bodies than we probably had planned on.” 

This is a damning statement for Williams, who played very well with the Toros last season but nobody would say the Spurs would be crazy to cut him. Of the three only Hairston has made a big impression so far. He is not the quickest guard around but he has adequate foot speed, a strong upper body, and has shown a willingness to hustle.

There are advantages to cutting all three players. One, the Spurs are paying luxury tax so that each additional player costs double, and lets be honest, none of the three players will make or break the Spurs season. Second, leaving one roster spot open allows the Spurs flexibility if they need to sign a player in midseason or make a trade. Personally, I like having one open spot for these reasons. The 15th man is rarely used and most likely will not change the season one way or another. 

If it’s not obvious by now, the only player I can see the Spurs keeping is Malik Hairston. 

Please leave us your comments on who makes the Spurs squad and who doesn’t.

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