Spurs Rumors

Belinelli To Skip World Cup Qualifiers

Marco Belinelli will focus on the upcoming NBA season instead of playing for Italy’s national team, according to a Sportando report. The veteran shooting guard will skip World Cup qualifiers next month against Poland and Hungary in order to prepare for the Spurs’ training camp, the report continues. Belinelli, who had a previous two-year stint with San Antonio, played a combined 80 regular-season games last season for the Hawks and Sixers and averaged 12.1 PPG. He’ll back up DeMar DeRozan and could also see some action at small forward after signing a two-year, $12MM deal.

  • Tony Parker will come back to San Antonio to end his career, he told the Chinese website Hupu.com in an interview that was relayed by AmicoHoops.net. Parker, who signed a two-year deal with the Hornets, intend to sign a one-day contract with the Spurs when he’s ready to call it quits. “Yes, I will retire as a Spur,” Parker said.

Remaining Offseason Questions: Southwest Division

NBA teams have now completed the brunt of their offseason work, with the draft and free agency practically distant memories. Still, with training camps more than a month away, most clubs around the league have at least one or two outstanding issues they’ve yet to address.

We’re in the midst of looking at all 30 NBA teams, separating them by division and checking in on the key outstanding question that each club still needs to answer before the 2018/19 regular season begins.

After focusing on the Atlantic, Central, and Southeast last week, we’re heading to the Western Conference this week, starting with the Southwest…

Dallas Mavericks
When will the investigation into allegations of misconduct in the Mavericks’ workplace wrap up?

It was way back in February that an SI.com report revealed a seemingly corrosive workplace culture in the Mavericks‘ business offices, prompting the team to hire outside counsel to look into the issue. Six months later, that investigation has yet to conclude.

The probe into alleged misconduct within the Mavs’ organization may not have any real impact on the on-court product in Dallas, and it didn’t scare away free agents this summer — the club landed DeAndre Jordan, one of the top players on the market. Still, Mark Cuban‘s organization needs to repair its image, so the Mavs figure to take steps to address the investigators’ findings once the outside firm has finished its work.

While there’s no specific timeline for the completion of the investigation, I’d be surprised if it’s not done by the time the Mavs play their first regular season game of 2018/19.

Houston Rockets
Will they be able to acquire another veteran wing player?

After coming within a game of the NBA Finals this spring, the Rockets are zeroed in on beating the Warriors in 2018/19. As they showed in the Western Conference Finals against Golden State, the best way to attack the defending champs is with a series of three-and-D wings who are capable of making corner threes after Chris Paul and James Harden break down the defense, and who can slow down the Dubs’ perimeter scorers on the other end of the court.

Houston lost two of those players – Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute – this offseason, and while they brought in veterans like James Ennis and Carmelo Anthony, the Rockets really could use another reliable wing. They’re said to be in the market for a player who fits that bill, dangling Ryan Anderson and a draft pick in trade talks.

Given Anderson’s exorbitant salary, the Rockets have to target well-paid vets as they scour the trade market, so players like Kent Bazemore and J.R. Smith have been cited as potential targets. Nicolas Batum, DeMarre Carroll, Courtney Lee, Danilo Gallinari, Marvin Williams, and Wesley Matthews are among the other players who could appeal to Houston and who shouldn’t be untouchable.

Although a trade remains possible, the Rockets may have to strike within the next month or so, before training camps get underway. Teams will become more reluctant to shake up their rosters once they’ve brought players to camp.

Memphis Grizzlies
Who will be traded or released in order to finalize the 15-man roster?

The Grizzlies currently have 15 players with fully guaranteed salaries for the 2018/19 season. They also have a 16th player – Andrew Harrison – whose salary is non-guaranteed but who appears likely to make the regular season roster. In other words, Memphis may end up trading or waiving someone with a guaranteed contract.

Memphis will have until mid-October to make a roster decision, but based on the team’s offseason moves and the nature of certain players’ contracts, there aren’t many viable candidates to be cut.

Dakari Johnson, acquired in a financially motivated trade with the Magic, is the likeliest release candidate on the roster, but waiving him would leave the Grizzlies pretty thin at center behind Marc Gasol. The club would have to be confident that Jaren Jackson Jr. can contribute in his rookie season or that a forward like Ivan Rabb or JaMychal Green can slide to the five.

"<strongNew Orleans Pelicans
How many players do the Pelicans intend to carry to start the season?

As we noted on Sunday, the Pelicans have 12 players on fully guaranteed salaries. That leaves up to three spots on the club’s roster for the regular season, and there are several legit NBA players who figure to be in the mix for those spots.

A pair of Okafors will be seeking a place in the frontcourt rotation, with both Emeka Okafor and Jahlil Okafor on partially guaranteed deals. On the wing, Troy Williams and DeAndre Liggins will look to stick in New Orleans after bouncing from team to team in recent seasons.

If the Pelicans don’t make any other additions to their NBA roster this offseason, they could carry three of those players on their 15-man roster, leaving just one of the four on the outside looking in. However, if New Orleans prefers to retain a little roster flexibility, the team could enter the season with an open roster spot. That would likely mean carrying just one of the two Okafors, as well as one of Williams or Liggins. In that scenario, we could see some pretty fierce roster battles in training camp and the preseason.

San Antonio Spurs
Will Manu Ginobili be back for one more season?

Tim Duncan is gone. Tony Parker is gone. Kawhi Leonard is gone. But Manu Ginobili is still a Spur. Now, it’s just a question of whether or not the NBA’s second-oldest player wants to play out the final season of his current contract with the franchise.

If Ginobili was a free agent this offseason, the threat of retirement might loom a little larger, but at this point in the summer, I’d be a little surprised if the veteran guard decides he didn’t want to return for the second season of the two-year deal he inked last summer.

Assuming Ginobili is back – which seems like the safe bet for now – the Spurs’ roster for 2018/19 should essentially be set. The 41-year-old figures to announce his plans in the coming days or weeks.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rudy Gay Talks Health, DeRozan, Spurs’ Expectations

Although he was able to get back on the court last season after tearing his Achilles during the 2016/17 campaign, Rudy Gay never seemed to be fully at 100%. He was nagged by Achilles and heel issues, appearing in just 57 games in his first season for the Spurs.

Having re-signed with San Antonio though, Gay is feeling better as the 2018/19 season approaches, telling Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News that “everything is clicking” and that he feels “athletic again.”

Gay spoke a little more about his health and also touched on several other Spurs-related topics in his conversation with Orsborn, so let’s round up a few highlights from the veteran forward…

On his offseason workouts:

“I’ve been working hard, man. I lost about five pounds. Last year was a little bit of a struggle for me, so I tried to alleviate that by taking the weight off my feet by losing a couple of pounds through working out and eating better. It’s now or never right now for me.”

On how DeMar DeRozan, unhappy about being traded by the Raptors, will fit right in with the Spurs:

“That’s the thing about this whole team – everybody has a chip on his shoulder. His is just more publicized. But, look, I’m healthy (and have something to prove), LaMarcus (Aldridge) always finds someway to have a chip on his shoulder. Jakob (Poeltl) wants to prove he can be a great player. DJ (Dejounte Murray) has a chip on his shoulder because he wants to be known as one of the best at his position.

“I think we have a great mix of guys, a great basketball team. (Spurs GM) R.C. (Buford) put together a great team. It will be fun to watch.”

On his quick decision to re-sign with the Spurs in free agency:

“I always knew I wanted to come back. When I opted out, I felt like I had options. But the best option was to just stay where I was at.”

On modest expectations for the Spurs, who have an over/under of 43.5 wins on the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas:

“Nobody expects us to be good. I don’t know why. … Why were we expected to be so much better last year? Because Kawhi (Leonard) may have come back? He didn’t, and we were still a playoff team, really a couple of wins away from being a third or fourth seed in the West.

“They don’t have many expectations for us. But the Spurs always exceed the expectations. Don’t expect anything less this year.”

Ginobili Announcement May Happen This Week

Manu Ginobili‘s announcement on whether he plans to play another season could come this week, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Speaking at a basketball clinic, Ginobili’s older brother, Sepo, suggested the veteran Spurs guard is nearing a decision, tweets Spanish-language broadcaster Carlos Altamirano.

The 41-year-old is entering the second season of a two-year contract he signed with the Spurs last summer. He will make $2.5MM if he decides to play in the upcoming season, which would be his 17th in San Antonio.

  • DeMar DeRozan feels like he has something to prove after being traded from the Raptors to the Spurs this summer, and Jakob Poeltl thinks that should be frightening for opponents, Orsborn relays in a separate piece. Poeltl came to San Antonio with DeRozan in the Kawhi Leonard deal and knows what his teammate is capable of. DeRozan is a four-time All-Star and may push his game to greater heights in response to the trade. “It’s a little bit scary, to be honest,” Poeltl said, “because I know what he can do when he has a chip on his shoulder, when he gets that extra motivation. Yeah, I think he’s going to be ready.”

Central Notes: Pacers, Oladipo, Cavaliers, Vonleh

The Pacers took the conference champion Cavaliers to seven games in their playoff series and feel good about their chances to contend in the upcoming season, writes Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Coach Nate McMillan is especially encouraged by Indiana’s offseason moves, which included the free agent additions of Tyreke Evans, Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn, along with drafting Aaron Holiday.

“We feel good about our draft picks and our free agents that we were able to pick up,” McMillan said. “We felt like we added a need to our roster. We felt like we were able to strengthen our bench. All of those were guys we felt like if we could improve that position, we wanted to. Aaron is going to be a real solid guard in this league.”

“Is it open? With LeBron [out]? Yes. We’re happy that he’s gone west,” McMillan said. “But we know that it’s still going to be a challenge and we have to make sure we work on us and not assume anything. It’s going to be a challenge for us to do the things we did last season and do it better.”

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • Victor Oladipo‘s summer is a mixture of workouts and marketing opportunities, relays J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. The league’s reigning Most Improved Player adopted a new diet and upgraded his offseason routine last year before posting the best season of his NBA career. The Pacers star is also taking advantage of his new-found fame to help build his brand. “I decided to take control on and off the court and really make decisions that are best for me instead of relying on other people,” Oladipo says. “It’s about growth, getting a little wiser, a gray hair here or there. I’m trying to grow up.”
  • The Cavaliers have 12 players on their roster with guaranteed contracts and are keeping two spots open for David Nwaba and Rodney Hood, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Cleveland was reportedly finalizing a deal with Nwaba at the start of the month, but nothing has been made official. Hood remains the top restricted free agent on the market, but has little bargaining power with so few teams having cap space remaining. Point guard Isaiah Taylor, who signed a non-guaranteed $1.5MM deal yesterday, will also compete for a roster spot, Marks adds.
  • The Cavaliers were the second choice for former Bulls forward Noah Vonleh, who signed with the Knicks this summer, a source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post. The Bucks and Spurs were also in the running.

Jakob Poeltl Hoping For Greater Role With Spurs

Jakob Poeltl is hoping an offseason trade to the Spurs will give him a better shot at playing time, relays Tom Orsborne of The San Antonio Express-News. Poeltl was an overlooked part of the deal that sent Kawhi Leonard to Toronto and DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio, but the former first-round pick may find a greater opportunity to show off his skills with his new team. Poeltl describes himself as willing to do the “dirty work” and is thrilled about the opportunity with the Spurs.

Gregg Popovich Comments On Passing Of Bob Bass

Former Spurs general manager Bob Bass passed away from a series of strokes on Friday night, per the San Antonio-Express News. He was 89 years old.

Bass enjoyed a decorated coaching and front office career in basketball, most prominently spending 20 years with the Spurs. In that time, San Antonio made the postseason 17 times and advanced to the conference finals on three occasions.

“Over the course of four decades, Bob Bass had a huge impact in both the ABA and NBA,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “BB was a true pioneer in the world of professional basketball. His knowledge, passion and dedication to the game were inspiring. We send our condolences to the entire Bass family.”

Bass’ coaching career included stints at the ABA and on the collegiate level for Texas Tech.

ESPN Panel Bearish On Spurs' Playoff Chances

  • In the latest installments of their Summer Forecast series, ESPN’s panel projects the Eastern and Western Conference standings and champions for the 2018/19 season. While the teams at the top of those lists aren’t surprising, the playoff predictions in the West are noteworthy — ESPN’s panelists have the Spurs and Trail Blazers outside the top eight.

Former Spur Darrun Hilliard To Play In Spain

Former Spurs two-way player Darrun Hilliard has signed a contract with Spanish club Baskonia, the team announced today (Twitter link). It’s a one-year deal.

Hilliard, a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, spent two seasons with the Pistons before being dealt to the Rockets in June 2017. Houston used him as a salary-matching piece in the Chris Paul trade with the Clippers, who subsequently waived him.

The Spurs signed Hilliard to a two-way contract last September, and kept him under contract for the entire 2017/18 season. The 6’6″ swingman appeared in just 14 games for San Antonio, but played well in 36 contests for the team’s G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, averaging 20.7 PPG, 4.5 RPG, and 3.8 APG with a shooting line of .475/.400/.845.

Hilliard received a qualifying offer from the Spurs at season’s end, making him a restricted free agent, and it doesn’t appear San Antonio ever withdrew that offer.

This is the first summer that two-way qualifying offers have been an option for teams and players, so we’re still figuring out how they’ll be used going forward. Assuming they function like standard QOs, the Spurs should have the option of keeping that offer on the table next offseason before Hilliard can sign another NBA contract. The Raptors have taken this approach with Nando De Colo for the last several years, tendering him a qualifying offer every year in case he decides to return to the NBA.

Four 2018 NBA Draftees Remain Unsigned

With Thunder second-rounder Devon Hall set to spend the upcoming season playing in Australia, 56 of 60 players selected in the 2018 NBA draft have now made plans – in the NBA or elsewhere – for the 2018/19 campaign.

As our 2018 draft pick signing tracker shows, that leaves four players whose status for 2018/19 has yet to be reported or announced. Here’s what we know – or can deduce – about those four rookies:

  1. Justin Jackson (Magic): According to our roster counts, the Magic have used both of their two-way contract slots and have 16 players on NBA contracts. However, only 14 of those NBA deals are fully guaranteed, meaning there could be a path for Jackson to claim the 15th spot. Still, Isaiah Briscoe looks like he’ll have an opportunity to make the team despite not having a guaranteed salary. Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel expects Jackson, who is coming off a major shoulder injury, to spend the 2018/19 season with the Lakeland Magic, so perhaps he’ll sign a G League contract with an eye toward joining Orlando’s 15-man squad in 2019.
  2. De’Anthony Melton (Rockets): The Rockets only have 10 players on fully guaranteed salaries, meaning there’s plenty of room for Melton to join the mix. It’s possible Houston is waiting to sign Melton in order to keep him trade-eligible — as soon as he signs, he can’t be dealt for one month, and the Rockets may want to keep their options open as they scour the market for a wing player. Assuming Melton remains with the Rockets, they’ll likely lock him up for at least three years using part of the taxpayer mid-level exception, like they did with Isaiah Hartenstein.
  3. Chimezie Metu (Spurs): The Spurs have a lone opening on their projected 15-man roster, with 14 players on guaranteed deals. It’s possible Metu could slot into that spot, but he’s not the only option. Former two-way player Darrun Hilliard is a candidate to be promoted to a standard NBA contract, and 2017 second-rounder Jaron Blossomgame could also be signed. The Spurs are very comfortable stashing draft picks, as they currently retain the NBA rights to 11 players who aren’t playing in the NBA. We’ll see if Metu becomes the 12th or if the Spurs held onto part of their mid-level exception this summer in order to sign him to a long-term deal.
  4. Kevin Hervey (Thunder): Hall’s move overseas looks like it could be good news for Hervey. The Thunder have 15 players on guaranteed contracts, leaving no clear path to OKC’s regular season roster, but the club only has Deonte Burton on a two-way deal. That leaves the Thunder’s other two-way contract slot open, and it would make sense for Hervey to fill it, as four other 2018 draftees in the 54-60 range have inked two-way deals so far this summer.