Barring any surprises, the Spurs‘ starting five for next season appears set, writes Jeff McDonald of The Athletic. Dejounte Murray, returning from a torn right ACL, should take over at point guard, with Derrick White joining him in the backcourt. DeMar DeRozan will move to forward, alongside LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl, who impressed the coaching staff after a midseason move into the starting lineup.
That means, if he returns, Rudy Gay will continue in a bench role, along with Bryn Forbes, who started much of this season. Coach Gregg Popovich wants DeRozan to become more proficient from 3-point territory to make up for not having Forbes as a starter.
“That’s what the league is all about now,” Popovich said. “End of the game, the first thing that you look at is 3-point shooting, and it covers up a whole lot of warts. You can get beat on the boards — I mean, in one of the games that we beat Denver, they had 28 second-chance points, but they shot horribly, and we shot very well. Game over. It’s not very interesting. It’s not much fun. But that’s the way the league is.”
There’s more NBA news from Texas:
- The Spurs may be ready to add draft-and-stash project Nikola Milutinov to their roster, McDonald adds. The 26th pick in 2015, Milutinov has been playing for Olympiacos B.C. of the Greek Basketball League, where he averaged 10.7 PPG and 6.8 RPG this season. The Spurs will explore the 24-year-old center’s market value before bringing him to the U.S., and McDonald expects them to let him adjust to the league gradually, just as they did with Boban Marjanovic and Davis Bertans.
- Kemba Walker appears to be the Mavericks‘ most realistic option in free agency, Marc Stein of the New York Times said in a recent radio interview in Dallas. Stein said the Mavs are “legitimately intrigued” by Walker, and he believes they will get a meeting with him when free agency begins in July.
- Rockets associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik has found a way to balance basketball and family after briefly walking away from the game last fall, relays Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. Houston convinced him to return in November and he helped fix the defense after a disastrous start. “He was kind of resolute for a little while,” said Rockets CEO Tad Brown. “Fortunately for us, we were able to wear him down and end up bringing him back. The first thing was always, let’s make sure everything is OK, personally, with he and his family. And then, secondarily, how do we handle this, how do we move forward? But at the same time, he’s a key part of what we do. How do we get him back to (our) family?”