The Spurs are off to a rough start this season. San Antonio currently sits at the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference with an 11-16 record. Head coach Gregg Popovich has been searching for answers all over the roster lately. This has included shaking up some rotational minutes.
During a tilt against Houston on December 16, Popovich pulled starting shoot guard DeMar DeRozan, the team’s highest earner with a $27.7MM salary this season, with 4:46 left in the game and the Spurs down 101-97. San Antonio had led by as many as 25 points in the first half. Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News notes that DeRozan’s disengaged body language while languishing during the eventual 109-107 loss on the bench was criticized.
Following the criticism, power forward Rudy Gay defended DeRozan’s reaction to the late-game benching, calling the two-time All-NBA selection a “competitor.” DeRozan did stay on the court late to help seal the Spurs’ subsequent game, a 118-105 defeat of the Nets on Thursday. Popovich substituted all starters with 47 seconds left and the victory sewn up.
There’s more out of the Southwest:
- In his latest mailbag column, The Daily Memphian’s Chris Herrington touches on Dillon Brooks‘ value as a 2020 restricted free agent. Brooks, the 45th pick in the 2017 draft, has been solid in his third NBA season thus far. He has shown his mettle as a long-range shooter for the Grizzlies, connecting on 37.1% of his 4.9 three-point attempts a game this year. He can also defend at a position of need — albeit while getting into foul trouble. Herrington considers Brooks’ best fit on a playoff team to be as a bench scorer. Herrington hopes that Memphis waits out the market for Brooks, and exercises caution if offers from other teams venture significantly beyond the mid-level exception ($9.8MM annually).
- ESPN’s Andrew Lopez (Twitter link) reports that Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry has lifted the team’s minutes restriction on starting center Derrick Favors. Gentry anticipates Favors playing 25-27 minutes. He has averaged 20.9 minutes a night in 14 games this season.
- The Mavericks showed off their roster depth beyond starry headliners Luka Doncic (still out with an injury) and Kristaps Porzingis in a 117-98 road win over the Sixers last night. To be fair, Porzingis scored 22 points, pulled down 18 rebounds, and blocked three opponents’ shots. Still, Tim McMahon of ESPN notes that Tim Hardaway, Seth Curry, and even Ryan Broekhoff have had clutch moments for Dallas so far. “We have so many different weapons and so many different guys that can come in,” Porzingis noted after the victory. “I almost feel bad because we have so many guys that can come in, and sometimes they don’t get the opportunity.”