Thursday, July 20, 2017

Unfettered Optimism: Summer Signings

I believe that Spurs have made most of the moves that they're going to make. If we assume that the imminent signings of Manu Ginobili and Pau Gasol then most of the signings are pretty much complete, at least as far as I can see in terms of the main players on the roster. Granted, there might be a few more signings or people that surprise during training camp. Here's where I see the roster as the season begins:

PG - Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Tony Parker
SG - Danny Green, Manu Ginobili, Brandon Paul
SF - Kawhi Leonard, Rudy Gay, Kyle Anderson
PF - LaMarcus Aldridge, Davis Bertans
C - Pau Gasol, Joffrey Lauvergne

Officially, Bryn Forbes (who has been lighting up the Summer League) and 2nd round pick Jaron Blossomgame have not yet signed contracts with the team, but to be honest, I've never been 100% convinced about Bryn Forbes. He has the ability to be a Roger Mason or Gary Neal type player at best and frankly Patty Mills works out better. I also am not sure what exactly will happen with Adam Hanga joining at least training camp, hopefully he'll pan out slightly better than Livio Jean-Charles.

Without any major trades (especially with the Jonathon Simmons for Tyson Chandler trade falling through) the one thing that I can see is that Pop is moving slowly towards a predominantly small ball lineup. The primary acquisition that I'm really excited about is Rudy Gay. While I agree he might not be a max type player, for the mid-level exception I think Gay is actually quite a bargain. Of course, there is the issue of his injured Achilles tendon, but looking at all the players that have returned to it, I think he favorably stacks up closer to Dominique Wilkins's situation that Kobe's, meaning, I'm optimistic that he returns perhaps not to peak performance but close enough for it to count.

While Gay is not All NBA defense materials, I think that within the team defense schemes that Pop draws up will showcase some of his above-average defensive abilities, similar to what happened with LaMarcus Aldridge. With less of the scoring load to worry about, Gay will have the ability to thrive as a secondary/tertiary option depending on who he's playing with. I actually rather like him as a secondary scorer given where I see LaMarcus playing out (see no. 2). While many people remember Rudy Gay for his inefficient shooting in Memphis and Toronto, I prefer to look at his recent years in Sacramento, where he played and thrived under a strong system coach (for a little bit in Mike Malone) and played as a secondary option behind DeMarcus Cousins. Not to say that the Kings are a great blueprint to follow, but I think in this case it is a good example of how Rudy Gay can be successful in a system.

While I do enjoy the idea of Spurs playing big with Gay at the 3 and Kawhi at the 2, the likely scenario we'll see a lot of Gay in is as a stretch 4 position and as the primary backup to Kawhi. It can't be denied that he's a significant improvement over Kyle Anderson and will be more reliable that a 40 year old Manu Ginobili (don't get me wrong, I do love Manu, but he is 40). To be fair, with the way the league is moving, Gay's length and size enable him to guard a variety of positions effectively for spurts if not consistently (at least as consistently as say Boris Diaw). I can see a long lineup of Danny Green, Kawhi, Gay, and LaMarcus tacked on with either Murray, Mills, or Manu creating a good amount of havoc in general.

Outside of Rudy Gay the other signings confirmed are 1st round pick Derrick White, Summer League journeyman Brandon Paul, and backup center Joffrey Lauvergne. I don't expect much from these signings, with the exception perhaps of Derrick White, who shows flashes of being more of what the Spurs are looking for than Bryn Forbes, a solid shooting combo guard who is solid at defense and can competently run an offense safely.

Overall, I think , coupled with the continued development of Dejounte Murray, Davis Bertans, and even Kawhi Leonard, I think we're taking steps. Beyond that, we're also maintaining favorable cap flexibility for the lucrative 2018 free agent class.

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