10-days into free agency, where the Spurs stand

It’s day 10 of the 2012 NBA free agency period, and so far, the San Antonio Spurs have come up with TDfour signing agreements, their own shooting guard Danny Green, center Boris Diaw, forward Tim Duncan, and guard Patty Mills.

With the latest news coming out of Spain that Slovenian forward Erazem Lorbek will be re-signing with Regal Barcelona, the Spurs look like they could still have the same squad from last season with just a few minor tweaks.

Outside of James Anderson, San Antonio will have the same team report by training camp.

According to the reports regarding Lorbek before he decided to re-sign with Regal, the Spurs were looking to find a physical center. 

As free agency began nine days ago, the Spurs have already been rumored to be interested in five prime free agents as far as frontcourt players go. Unfortunately, when reality sets in, San Antonio isn’t seen as an exciting destination due to their limited finances.

Here’s the names of free agents that the Spurs have reportedly been interested in thus far and where those player’s stand today.

  • Marcus Camby – Camby has agreed to sign with the New York Knicks according to multiple reports in a sign-and-trade agreement with the Houston Rockets.
  • Brandon Bass – Bass will re-sign with the Boston Celtics.
  • Chris Kaman – Right now, the Indiana Pacers are in the lead to land Kaman after reportedly having very good talks with him in person. The Pacers however, have matched Roy Hibbert’s max offer from the Portland Trailblazers, so Kaman falling to them might be out of the picture. Other teams interested in Kaman aside from the Spurs are the Sacramento Kings, Utah Jazz, and Dallas Mavericks. 
  • Rashard Lewis – Lewis met with the Miami Heat over the weekend, and they seem like the favorite to land him. According to David Aldridge of NBA.com, the Knicks and Atlanta Hawks are also still in the mix for Lewis.
  • Ersan Ilyasova – Ilyasova will be re-singing a five-year deal with the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.

Essentially, Kaman and Lewis are still in the mix, but Lewis looks like a lock to end up in Miami or New York. However, I’d say Kaman is probably the only player the Spurs could possibly have a shot at since Indiana matched Hibbert’s deal. If he’s seeking a championship, then the Spurs are the odd-on favorite between the Jazz, Kings, and Mavericks. The Jazz and Kings already have several young big men, while the Mavericks currently look lottery bound and Kaman’s only connection is Dirk Nowitzki, as both have played for Germany’s national team.

Kaman is just what the Spurs are looking for, according to the report from Lorbek, a physical traditional center. Kaman could easily take over Matt Bonner or DeJuan Blair’s minutes and maybe start, but even if he doesn’t mind coming off of the bench behind Boris Diaw, he and Tiago Splitter could still be an improvement as the frontline off of the bench. Plus, on nights when Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich elects rest Duncan, Kaman could start alongside Diaw. The Spurs could also look into using Blair as a sign-and-trade chip to New Orleans for Kaman. 

On Sunday in Team USA’s practice against the US Select team that features Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and Blair, Blair told the San Antonio Express News’ Mike Monroe that he expects to be traded before next season begins.

If you recall, Blair was reportedly being shopped around before the NBA draft, but no deal ever came into fruition. With Blair most likely to be traded by the start of training camp, or during the season, the Spurs would be left with the same frontline that was ousted by the Oklahoma City Thunder in six games presuming Duncan and Diaw re-sign.

Duncan, Diaw, Tiago Splitter, and Matt Bonner got the most minutes per game in the Spurs’ playoff run, so when you think about it, they still hold a frontcourt that was two games shy of making the NBA Finals.

After the Spurs were eliminated, I wrote a 2-part free agency column of players I thought the Spurs should target in free agency.

My list included these names: Darrell Arthur (re-signing with Memphis), Robin Lopez, Chris Kaman (see above), Spencer Hawes (re-signing with Philadelphia), and Antawn Jamison.

Let’s look at the latest on Lopez and Jamison.

  • Robin Lopez – Lopez is a restricted free agent and the Suns have every intention of keeping the big man after first extending a qualifying offer to him, and meeting him face-to-face to begin contract negotiations according to reports.
  • Antawn Jamison – Jamison has already had dinner with the Charlotte Bobcats’ brass, and he’s leaning toward signing with them according to multiple reports. The Golden State Warriors are also still in the mix for Jamison.

After I wrote my free agency piece, I asked our readers to give me their thoughts on players the Spurs should look at in free agency if they didn’t agree with my list. Here were a few of the names that came up.

  • Anthony Randolph – This is probably the one name mentioned the most by our readers and even writers and fans from other Spurs sites as well. I’d hate to break it to all the Randolph fans, but he’s most likely signing with either the Hawks or Dallas Mavericks. According to Yahoo’s Marc Spears, Randolph has meetings scheduled with both teams who both have a lot of cap room right now. Plus, Dallas is where Randolph grew up according to Spears.
  • Maurice Speights – Speights himself has already tweeted that he will be returning to the Grizzlies next season.
  • Ryan Richards – I know he’s not a free agent in the NBA, but the Spurs do hold his rights and a lot of fans have been asking about him. As far as Richards is concerned, he’s been really quiet since declaring his nationality to Jamaica instead of Great Britain. From the numerous reports out of Europe that I’ve read about him, he left the British national team, who are set to play in the Olympics, because he wasn’t going to be given a prominent role with the team. Richards also quit one European team to sign with another during last season and the last I read on him, he was just training in Chicago, the reason? I’m just as clueless as you. I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed yet, but it seems that Richards has also deleted his twitter account. I’m not sure he’s got the maturity ready to play in the NBA, especially with one of the most disciplined teams in the league, the Spurs.
  • Earl Clark – Clark will be staying with the Magic after deciding not to opt out of his player option.
  • Terrence Williams – According to AllKYHoops.com, Williams is receiving interest from three teams: the Suns, Detroit Pistons, and Kings.
  • Shawne Williams – After being bought out by the Portland Trailblazers, the Knicks are in the hunt for Williams according to Legion Sports. With former Spurs Steve Novak re-signing with the Knicks, Williams to the Spurs could still be a possibility, but there has been no word of such an idea.
  • J.J. Hickson – Right now, several reports have the Warriors and Bobcats as the favorites to land Hickson, with Golden State most likely being the place he ends up according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports.

When you look over all the players I just went through from both my list and names the fans have mentioned, the Spurs don’t look to be in the lead for any of them. 

Nando De Colo is also expected to sign with the team from what he’s been saying and the moves that have been made over the last two weeks; him coming to San Antonio for a physical, and Valencia releasing him to play in the NBA.

Here’s how I see the rest of the summer playing out. The Spurs will re-sign Duncan, Diaw, add De Colo, and Mills, and maybe one extra forward/center, not a spectacular player, but one who might play for the veteran’s minimum.

I wouldn’t be surprised if they show up with only De Colo as their only new addition when training camp begins. There’s three ways that the Spurs might be able to bolster their frontline, by signing Kaman, via a trade, or summer league. If the Spurs are going to sign-and-trade for a free agent, it’s going to most likely involve DeJuan Blair and Matt Bonner, though Bonner wouldn’t necessarily draw much interest. I expect both names to be on the trading block until next season’s February trade deadline, though there won’t be many suitors. To read some interesting sign-and-trade ideas the Spurs could look into, check out our own Trevor Zickgraf’s column from Monday.

As for Summer League, this is a long shot. It’s highly unlikely the Spurs will find a gem in Las Vegas like they did two years ago in Gary Neal, but it’s still a possibility.

When you think about it, this team was two wins away from facing the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals in a shortened season. With a full training camp, summer to develop the younger players, a full season to work on the ins and outs of the system for all players, this team could still make more progress next season even after finishing with the number one record in the Western Conference after two straight years. 

I stood next to coach Popovich before almost every Spurs home game this past season and he always talked about how the team had to use almost a mini-version of their playbook and sets because there was rarely time to have individual practices in the hectic lockout season. Having more practices and film sessions will surely help next years squad. 

Here’s what Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford said after the NBA Draft a few weeks ago, regarding the Spurs making any trades to move up in the draft that night.

“As we got into the draft, we really felt that we were better off with who we had and where we were than doing something that might create different opportunities and challenges.”

The Spurs are the Spurs. When was the last time they lured a marquee free agent to sign in San Antonio? They have a pattern of not making the entertaining moves but instead getting the most out of what they have.

This group with the possible addition of De Colo may have another run in them, but just because the Spurs are so quiet, don’t forget how they made headlines back in March on the trade deadline, when they sent Richard Jefferson to Golden State for Stephen Jackson.

The Spurs are quiet, but they can still pull off a move when you least expect it.

Paul Garcia

About Paul Garcia

Paul is a San Antonio Spurs credentialed media member for Project Spurs. He covered the 2013 NBA All-Star Game in Houston, TX, and the 2013 and 2014 NBA Finals. Paul has been featured on WOAI, Fox 29, and numerous nationwide radio shows.

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