As training camp begins in just under two weeks, the Spurs finally get a chance to look at the new, young roster, but they are not done making moves yet. As the wagon list still sits on 17 guaranteed contracts, they still need to take a few more steps to get that number down to 15 by October 20, leading to the question:
Who do you think will be the last cuts to get to the wagon list for 15? Or do you see a trade coming?
Marilyn Dubinski: The signing of Keita Bates-Diop to guaranteed contract instead of two-way was a surprise and makes this a little more complicated as they are back to 17 contracts. For a while, Drew Eubanks seemed to be a possible candidate to drop out, as his contract was not guaranteed until August 20 (although it seems the Spurs would have already done so if they could not see anything in him ), and Al-Farouq Aminu is another given that he is least likely to have a role with the team going forward and his salary will not be on the Spurs salary cap after this season.
The KBD signing makes it feel as if a trade might come together, otherwise why sign him and then face the possibility of having to give up two players? Thaddeus Young gets a lot of interest from candidates. Maybe he and Aminu end up getting another package deal, or another two-Spurs-for-a-player deal comes along, so they only need to give up one player. Or maybe KBD was signed to be trading feed. Time will tell.
Bruno Passos: The low-hanging fruit here is Eubanks and Aminu, the former because of his low salary, and the big ones are more useful these days, the latter because he feels like an odd man out of the rotation of the wing. However, you can also quarrel with cutting. The release of Eubanks would leave Spurs strangely thin in the center until Zach Collins is healthy (I’m not sure anyone knows when that may be) and addicted to newly signed Aussie Jock Landale. Aminu and his remaining $ 10 million could be deviated from and stretched, a move PATFO has proven not to be shy about making, but it seems to be wasted as he can still be a valuable contributor to one of the game’s most important positions. Although I think they are doing their best to make a consolidation move (for Ben Simmons or otherwise), my guess is that some team will take Aminu into their cap spot or swap exceptions for a future second round, and Eubanks is cut.
Mark Barrington: Judging by who’s on the list now, it would be Aminu, but I do not think the Spurs have made all their player moves yet. If they’re able to trade Thaddeus Young, they’ll probably get a player in return, and then the last cut would still be … Aminu. Drew Eubanks could be cut down, but with all the improvements we’ve seen in his game, I still think he has a place as an energy guy from the bench.
Jesus Gomez: The Keita Bates-Diop signing suggests Spurs are unlikely to have Aminu and potentially Thaddeus Young around when the season starts. Right now, the four forward forwards have on the roster in the three aforementioned players plus Luka Samanic, and must take into account that either Doug McDermott or Keldon Johnson get minutes on the spot in small lineups. There are too many players for not enough playing time.
My guess is that they are trying to swap Aminu but will buy him out at some point if there are no offers, and are open to freaking out Young for a draft pick and someone they can just give up. Releasing Eubanks and keeping Young for now as a small center – a role he played in Chicago alongside Lauri Markkanen – could also make sense and would be my preferred plan, but if anyone offers assets to Young, I would not blame Spurs for moving him.
The spurs are deep in most positions. If you were to guess, what’s the biggest name not starting the season in the tournament?
Depth: I would like to hope that the Spurs young guard has done enough to keep Bryn Forbes out of the main rotation, but he still delivers shots like few others on the roster do. I think it comes down to two of Spurs’ latest draft picks: Tre Jones and Luka Samanic. Jones has at least earned a chance, but can he take advantage and beat Spurs’ deep group of guards? And the pressure is on for Luka to prove himself this season or see the possibility that Spurs will not get the fourth year of his rookie contract. (Honest mention goes to Jock Landale, who should be good enough to knock Eubanks out of the backup center, but you never know with Pop and “rookies”.)
Step: I assume Primo is starting things with Austin and Collins is in streetwear, which also assumes Eubanks and Aminu are not on the list next month, putting them at a maximum of 13 active players. As for the biggest name left (and not the longest, which would probably be Bates-Diop), I would say Samanic if just because I think Young (assuming again he is not traded) makes more sense from the bench than with Poeltl and I’m not sure where he strikes.
Barrington: Zach Collins is injured and Primo and Wieskamp are rookies, so they really are not in this competition. My guess is (and I really hope I’m wrong) is that Luka Samanic is not going to make the leap that everyone seems to expect from him and he will continue to be a winger. Prove me wrong, Luka!
Gomez: It all depends on how they trim the list. If Young is gone, Samanic gets minutes. If there’s a logjam at power forward, he probably won’t. I’m also really interested in what happens to Devin Vassell and Lonnie Walker IV if all this forward force pushes Johnson to the small forward. In the situation where White and Murray are likely to come close to 30 minutes a night each and take some shooting guard minutes, there may not be much playing time left for at least one of the young wing if Spurs also play a backup point guard. Hopefully Vassell and Lonnie will push Bryn Forbes and Tre Jones out of the rotation, but it will be interesting to see how Pop tries to get all the minutes.