On Thursday night, the San Antonio Spurs will close out the 2022 preseason as they host the Oklahoma City Thunder. With the season tipping off next week, final rosters will need to be set by 5 p.m. EST / 2 p.m. PST on Monday, October 17, per the NBA calendar. As of Thursday morning, San Antonio has 19 active players after previous Spurs roster cuts of Tommy Kuhse and Chaundee Brown Jr. this week on the transaction report. That is two more than the allotted 17-man rosters allowed in the NBA, including the two-way contract players. This means that head coach Gregg Popovich and the Spurs staff have some difficult decisions to make.
Who is Safe from the Spurs Roster Cuts?
When it comes to projecting roster cuts, it is often easier to start with who won’t be cut as opposed to who will. Surely San Antonio will hold on to its trio of rookies – Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham, and Blake Wesley – heading into the season. How much time they spend on the bench in San Antonio as opposed to playing with the Austin Spurs remains to be seen, but they’ll be on the roster nonetheless.
With the team picking up the club options on Joshua Primo and Devin Vassell, for next year already, they are locks to make the roster too. The ink is freshly dried on Keldon Johnson’s new four-year, $80 million extension, so he’s not getting cut either. Joe Wieskamp also signed a two-year deal with San Antonio this offseason, so they see the value he brings, even at just north of $2 million a year. His contract is guaranteed for this season already.
From there, Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardson, and Doug McDermott all present trade value this season as well as production value. This mean they are likely safe from the cuts coming out of training camp. That leaves quite the list of players who can be considered for the axe: Zach Collins, Alize Johnson, Tre Jones, Keita Bates-Diop, Isaiah Roby, Romeo Langford, and Gorgui Dieng.
Evaluating San Antonio’s Options
San Antonio lacks size up and down the roster, despite possessing a number of lengthy guards. Behind Poeltl and Sochan, Collins, Dieng, and Alize Johnson would fight for minutes, with at least one of them not seeing the floor. Of that group, Johnson is on the smaller end at 6’8” and hasn’t done a lot with the minutes he’s gotten in the preseason. Considering too that he is on a training camp/ Exhibit 10 contract and the team has no commitment to him, Johnson is a likely candidate to get released. That doesn’t mean that Collins and Dieng are safe, however. The upside for Collins, when he’s healthy, would give him the edge if the front office trims from that end of the roster.
Bates-Diop, Roby, and Langford all bring similar games to the table, though Langford is a 6’5” shooting guard against two forwards. Bates-Diop has been with San Antonio for a few seasons now and looks comfortable in the system. Coming over from the Thunder, Roby is just getting his toes in the water with the Spurs, as is Langford. Roby brings a more complete game, showing the ability to score inside and out, and contributing well working the glass. Bates-Diop would be presumed safe, creating a competition between Roby and Langford, where Roby presents more upside.
Jones has been the starting point guard all preseason and that doesn’t appear to be changing soon. Both he and Bates-Diop have salaries that become guaranteed this month, though factoring for less than $2 million each, per Spotrac. San Antonio is in no salary cap danger.
So Who Gets Cut?
All things considered, it seems like Alize Johnson and Gorgui Dieng will be the odd men out when the Spurs roster cuts are made. Considering contributions on the court throughout the preseason and where they fit on the depth chart, it only makes sense. Dieng’s age doesn’t do him any favors on such a young roster either. Both players would also potentially cut into the minute opportunities for Sochan, creating an unnecessary logjam. San Antonio is looking to run the floor with young guys who want to shoot the ball and develop for next season, and the rest of the roster gets that done, even if they don’t win games.
Projected San Antonio Spurs Roster 2022-2023
- C – Jakob Poeltl*
- PF – Jeremy Sochan*
- SF – Keldon Johnson*
- SG – Devin Vassell*
- PG – Tre Jones*
- SF – Keita Bates-Diop
- SG – Malaki Branham
- F/C – Zach Collins
- SG – Romeo Langford
- SF – Doug McDermott
- SG – Josh Primo
- SG – Josh Richardson
- SF – Isaiah Roby
- SG – Blake Wesley
- SF – Joe Wieskamp
- SF/PF – Dominick Barlow**
- SF/PF – Jordan Hall**