For two-plus decades, the San Antonio Spurs have been seen as one of the most stable franchises in professional sports. Heading into free agency, the Spurs’ steadiness is in jeopardy of crumbling. Star player Kawhi Leonard’s trade request may send the perennial contender into rebuild mode, if the Spurs do indeed deal him to one of Leonard’s many suitors.
For now, however, the Spurs still figure to be a playoff team in the Western Conference in the 2018-19 NBA season. Here is the team’s projected starting lineup and roster heading into free agency.
Spurs Projected Starting Lineup & Roster
PG- Dejounte Murray, Patty Mills, Tony Parker (UFA)
SG- Danny Green (PO), Lonnie Walker, Manu Ginobli, Bryn Forbes (RFA), Derrick White
SF- Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Anderson (RFA), Brandon Paul, Darrun Hilliard
PF- LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay (UFA), Davis Bertans (RFA), Chimezie Metu
C- Pau Gasol, Joffrey Lauvergne (PO), Matt Costello
UFA = unrestricted free agent, RFA = restricted free agent, PO = player option
The Spurs drafted University of Miami shooting guard Lonnie Walker with the 18th pick and USC power forward Chimezie Metu with the 49th pick. The rookies could serve as replacements for the possible departures of solid contributors Rudy Gay and Tony Parker. Gay opted out of his 2018-19 player option to become an unrestricted free agent. Parker has played his entire 17 year career with the Spurs, but it remains to be seen if he negotiates a new contract with the only NBA franchise he has called home.
The Spurs could also lose Green and Lauvergne, both of whom have player options that they can either exercise or opt out of by June 29.
In reality, the Spurs offseason starts and ends with Leonard. If the former NBA Finals MVP and two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year gets dealt, the Spurs could either try to surround Aldridge with veteran talent or move towards a rebuild. The latter seems more plausible, though the Spurs may not want to waste coach Gregg Popovich’s final coaching years in the throes of a rebuild. ESPN reported that those close to the legendary coach don’t expect him to coach the Spurs beyond the 2020 Olympics.
Spurs Projected Cap Space: ($40,402,027)
The Spurs, like most teams, are over the projected $101 million cap. Real GM projects the Spurs to be $40,402,027 in the hole after decisions are made about current free agents. Even if the Spurs don’t re-sign any of their free agents and no player options are picked up, the team will only have roughly $18 million to work with in free agency, as teams cannot go over the cap unless it’s to re-sign their own players.
The Spurs cap situation wouldn’t drastically change if Leonard is indeed traded. The star small forward is slated to make $20,099,188 in 2018-19. Only a few teams have enough cap space to take on more money than they send out. And even the Lakers, the team with the most space cap space and Leonard’s rumored preferred destination, probably wouldn’t be motivated to limit their free agency options (the two max contracts they have in their arsenal).[/caption]