After falling to the Grizzlies in the play-in tournament, the Spurs face important decisions on their veteran players. DeMar DeRozan will be one of the biggest names on the free agent market this summer, and San Antonio must decide whether to make a long-term investment in the 31-year-old guard on a team filled with young talent.
The Spurs will have an exclusive window to reach a new deal with DeRozan before free agency begins August 1, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider article). DeRozan is eligible for an extension that could pay him up to $149.1MM over the next four seasons, including a $33.3MM starting salary for 2021/22.
If DeRozan reaches the open market, Marks identifies the Hornets, Mavericks, Heat and Knicks as teams that would have cap space and interest in signing the high-scoring guard. He suggests New York, which will have $55MM available, could be tempted to reunite DeRozan with his long-time friend and former Raptors backcourt partner, Kyle Lowry.
There’s more from San Antonio:
- Similar decisions will have to be made on Patty Mills and Rudy Gay, who are both headed to free agency, Marks adds in the same piece. Mills, who will turn 33 this summer, has spent most of his career with the Spurs and was considered a Sixth Man of the Year candidate during the first half of the season. Gay, who turns 35 in August, is a dependable three-point shooter and an effective weapon off the bench.
- After spending much of his rookie year in the G League, Keldon Johnson made significant progress during his second NBA season, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The 21-year-old small forward started 67 games this year and appears to be part of the Spurs’ foundation heading forward. “I’ve learned a lot,” Johnson said. “I’ve grown a lot — on and off the court — from just observing (coach Gregg Popovich) and how he goes about things. … He’s taught me so many things.”
- Popovich is encouraged by the progress his team made this season, but he cautions that becoming a title contender won’t happen right away, Orsborn tweets. “That takes time,” Popovich said. “… The more these guys get to practice together, the more they develop, hopefully the record will bend in the correct direction.”