The San Antonio Spurs are already eyeing the NBA offseason, even though they have the look of a playoff team this year. San Antonio sits with a 24-17 record through 41 games and is squarely in the middle of the Western Conference playoff picture. But still, rumors are swirling that Gregg Popovich and company are interested in targeting another star this offseason – New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis.
While we’re still a ways away from 2019 NBA free agency, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reported the Spurs have “significant interest” in Porzingis. He did point out that they may have trouble creating enough salary cap space for him, though. This comes just months after the team traded Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors, adding DeMar DeRozan, who’s thrived since landing in San Antonio.
It’s all hypothetical at this point, but let’s take a look at how the Spurs’ roster would look in 2019 with Porzingis on it.
Knicks 2019 Roster & Starting Lineup With Kristaps Porzingis
*Notates expected starter
C: LaMarcus Aldridge*, Pau Gasol, Jakob Poeltl
PF: Kristaps Porzingis*, Davis Bertans
SF: DeMar DeRozan*,
SG: Bryn Forbes*, Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills
PG: Dejounte Murray*, Lonnie Walker, Derrick White
It’s an interesting scenario and one that’s based on the current outlook of the Spurs’ payroll. They have 11 players currently under contract for the 2019-20 season, including Pau Gasol, who comes with a large $16 million cap number.
As Spotrac shows, Gasol’s 2019-20 contract is only partially guaranteed for $6.7 million, so there are a few ways for the Spurs to navigate that. Aside from the veteran center, the Spurs have just three players with cap hits over $7 million in Patty Mills (over $12.4 million), along with LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan (both over $26 million).
While starting point guard Dejounte Murray is out for the current season due to a torn ACL, he could be a perfect piece to pair with a trio of Porzingis, DeRozan and Aldridge. Even if the Spurs parted ways with Gasol and added Porzingis, they’d have a solid base roster and a decent amount of depth as well.
Kristaps Porzingis’ Injury & Contract
The Knicks star suffered a torn ACL during the 2017-18 NBA season and his outlook for a return this year seems unlikely at this point. While a lot can change, the team has played it incredibly safe with Porzingis, which is a smart move.
Shortly after Christmas, Knicks president Steve Mills threw some cold water on Porzingis potentially returning anytime soon, as ESPN’s Ian Begley revealed. Mills said Porzingis is “a ways away,” citing the long-term future of the franchise as a reason behind the extended patience on his return.
“We’d love to see him play, but we also acknowledge that he is a really, really important part of the long-term future of this franchise,” Mills said last week. “And the one thing we’re not going to do is take any real risk with a 23-year-old player in his position.”
The Knicks had the option to try to sign Porzingis to a rookie extension back in October of 2018 but chose not to do so, as ESPN revealed. In turn, this means the 23-year-old will become a restricted free agent this offseason. Due to this fact, the Knicks will have the opportunity to match any offer from another team, meaning the Spurs would still have an uphill climb to make this happen.