The San Antonio Spurs offseason has been relatively quiet. Almost too quiet for a team constantly adding key pieces to their roster. But, it makes sense. The Spurs finished second in the NBA Western Conference with 60 wins and almost handed the Golden State Warriors their first loss in the postseason (it’s safe to say the Warriors would’ve lost game one if Zaza Pachulia hadn’t closed out on Kawhi Leonard and unfortunately injured him). The Spurs had a 111.1 offensive rating (ranked ninth) and a 103.5 defensive rating (ranked first), so realistically there was no need to make any changes.
The Spurs emphasized continuity this offseason. They retained Manu Ginobili, Patty Mills, and Pau Gasol, while adding Rudy Gay, Brandon Paul, and Joffrey Lauvergne. However, they lost Jonathon Simmons, Dewayne Dedmon, and David Lee in the process.
Let’s start with the re-signing of Mills. Bringing back Mills for four years demonstrates a commitment to Mills as their future starting point guard. Their current starting point guard, Tony Parker (10.1 PPG, 4.5 APG, 1.8 RPG), posted nearly identical averages to Mills (9.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.8 RPG) while playing more minutes (Parker averaged 25.2 MPG and Mills averaged 21.9 MPG). Another issue with Parker is that he isn’t durable. He only suited up for 63 games last season and is expected to miss eight months following surgery. Mills, on the other hand, played in 80 games last season and 81 games the season before that. It only makes sense to re-sign a player who is reliable and has a track record of consistent improvement when given more minutes (6.9 PPG, 1.7 APG, 1.5 RPG, and 15.7 MPG in 2014-15 to 8.5 PPG, 2.8 APG, 2.0 RPG, and 20.5 MPG in 2015-16 to finally 9.5 PPG, 3.5 APG, 1.8 RPG, and 21.9 MPG last season).
Let’s face it: Ginobili (age 39) and Gasol (age 36) are both way past their primes. Ginobili (7.5 PPG, 2.7 APG, 2.3 RPG, 18.7 MPG) still put up decent numbers last year even with his limited minutes and has become a consistent role player. Gasol (12.4 PPG, 2.3 APG, 7.8 RPG, 25.4 MPG) may still be a solid option at center but re-signing him makes little sense (his contract is for three years, $48 million). His contract is costly for someone who was in and out of the starting lineup last year (out of the 64 games he played, he started 39 times). Paying Gasol that much money over three years significantly reduces the Spurs ability to bring in quality free agents in the future.
The addition of Gay was somewhat confusing. Gay is an odd fit for a Spurs system that is so meticulous because he is mostly known for his isolation scoring and is coming off an Achilles injury. But perhaps the Spurs needed another small forward who could score at will and carry some of the offensive burden while Leonard is on the bench. Adding Paul and Lauvergne was a move to mitigate the departure of Simmons, Dedmon, and Lee. Allowing Simmons, who is exceptional at defense (his 1.12 defensive real plus minus ranked eighth amongst all shooting guards) to sign with another team is questionable at best. Besides his defense, however, Simmons (6.2 PPG, 1.6 APG, 2.1 RPG) doesn’t bring much offensively and only contributes as a role player making highlight reels from time to time.
During the offseason, the Spurs decided to stay consistent. They retained all of their key pieces while losing only some of their role players. The only problem with staying the same is that this Spurs team full of veterans is only going to get older next season and have less money to sign a lucrative free agent.
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