The San Antonio Spurs are possibly going to lose four pieces next year in Manu Ginobili, who will probably retire, and Jonathon Simmons, David Lee and Dewayne Dedmon, who may leave in free agency to get more money.
However, the chances of these players possibly leaving will not necessarily make Spurs fans worry because they realize how powerful the machine they built is and how attractive the Spurs are as a team, due to their 20 year long streak of championship contention, and their ability to revive players careers and develop D-League and Euroleague scrappers to legitimate NBA players. And so I have compiled a list of 15 NBA players, who admittedly are not very big names, who can potentially replace the four players above, and I put them into five categories:
- Manu Replacements
- Simmons Replacements
- Lee Replacements
- Dedmon Replacements
- Three-Point Specialists
I added that last one because you can never have enough three-point shooters, and the four I put in that category specifically would be very good fits for the Spurs. And so now for the list no one’s been waiting for...
Just For The Spurs Nation
Manu Ginobili Replacements:
- Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
Unlike a lot of guys on this list, Joe Ingles probably won’t come very cheap. He is coming off of a very solid year in which he shot 44.1% from three, had a box plus minus of 2.6, played great defense and solidified himself as a long-term NBA player. But this might be a role player that the San Antonio Spurs should splurge on, as he is probably one of the most Spursian players in the league and the perfect replacement for Manu Ginobili.
Much like Manu, Ingles is a balding oversized playmaker, who can knock down the three, and is solid on the defensive end. There’s pretty much nothing else the Spurs could ask for in a Manu replacement.
The problem with this addition is that Ingles probably can get paid up to ten million dollars per year if he signs with another team, while the Spurs would need to give him less money if they want to make room for a bigger name player, which is probably the route they would want to go. But if that does not happen, Ingles would be the perfect Manu replacement.
- Tyreke Evans, Sacramento Kings
Unlike Ingles, Evans would not be the perfect replacement for Manu Ginobili, but a guy who the Spurs can turn into Manu Ginobili. Much like Manu, Tyreke Evans is an oversized playmaker with a knack for finishing creatively inside. Unlike Manu, Evans is a notorious over-dribbler, a below average defender and a very inconsistent shooter. But if the San Antonio Spurs have proved anything, it’s that they can mold players to fill any role that the Spurs see fit, and Evans definitely has the skillset to be the Spurs’ Manu replacement.
And although Evans has had some stat-stuffing years in the past, due to injuries and inconsistency, he is likely not going to see a very big payday in the offseason. This would be a good player for the Spurs to drop about three to five million on for a one-plus-one deal and see how he fits in with the rest of the team. And if I were Evans, I would love the idea of potentially going to the San Antonio Spurs, as not only could they potentially save my deteriorating career on a winning team, but they also have a tendency to rest players, which could be very beneficial for a player like Evans, who has suffered many injury woes in the past.
Jonathon Simmons Replacements:
- Justin Holiday, New York Knicks
What Jonathon Simmons brought to the San Antonio Spurs was defense, energy and scrappiness. Justin Holiday also could bring that similar play to the San Antonio Spurs, and unlike Simmons, who is probably going to get a pretty big paycheck this year, Holiday will almost definitely be less costly. Let’s look at the numbers here. Sure, Holiday’s defensive box plus minus is -.8 to Simmons’s .9, but that could very well be due to the fact that he was on the colossally terrible New York Knicks, and therefore the team could have been holding his defensive box plus minus back, as per 100 possessions, his team holds defenders to 6.3 less points when he is on the floor, to Simmons’s 7, so it’s really not that big of a different.
And to make up for his slightly worse defense, Holiday is a more efficient shooter, with 52.3% effective field goal percentage to Simmons’s 45.6%, and a 35.5% three-point shooter, to Simmons’s 29.4%. Justin Holiday definitely has the skillset to capably replace Jonathon Simmons, but damn it, I’m still gonna miss Simmons’s posterizability, something that Holiday simply can’t replicate.
- Thabo Sefolosha, Atlanta Hawks
I’m actually surprised that Thabo is yet to play for the San Antonio Spurs simply because if you are over 30 and foreign, there is a two in seven chance that you have player for the San Antonio Spurs (not an exaggeration, out of the 35 foreign NBA players over 30, Pau Gasol, Marco Belinelli, Aron Baynes, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Ian Mahinmi, Beno Udrih, Boris Diaw, Joel Anthony and Tiago Splitter have all played for the San Antonio Spurs). But this might finally be the time when Thabo Sefolosha moves himself from the East Coast San Antonio Spurs (Atlanta Hawks) to the actual San Antonio Spurs.
Despite being almost 33 years old, Thabo Sefolosha is still quick, especially on the defensive end, with his 3.1 defensive box plus minus. On that end, he could be even better than Simmons, and offensively, he is as well, with a 49.2% effective field goal percentage to Simmons’s 45.6%. He has also been a very consistent player throughout his career, with a positive box plus minus every year since his third year in the league, in 2008-2009.
And at almost 33 years old, Thabo may want to finally achieve the one thing he has yet to achieve in his career, a ring, and a good place where that could happen for him would be in San Antonio. Because of this, the Spurs could probably get him for cheap, as well.
David Lee Replacements:
- Amir Johnson, Boston Celtics
Although Amir Johnson has been a pretty good two-way power forward for his whole career, supplying 55%+ shooting and a decent 13.2% assist percentage (twelfth among big men) on the offensive end and a career 2.3 defensive box plus minus on that end of the floor, Amir Johnson has never really been a player on every team’s radar, which makes him a perfect fit for the San Antonio Spurs if David Lee does not come back to the team.
And as a starter on the Boston Celtics, one might think that one of the Celtics’ main priorities would be to keep Johnson, but with the team seeming pretty concentrated on attaining a superstar, whether it be Jimmy Butler, Paul George, Gordon Hayward or whoever else, they could let Johnson slip, much like the team did with guys like Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner last year.
And if that is the case, Johnson could see himself going to the San Antonio Spurs. He is still a very productive player, with a positive box plus minus every year of his career, and over four win shares every year since 2009-2010, and if he comes cheap, which is very possible, the Spurs would definitely want to keep their eye on Johnson.
- Tiago Splitter, Philadelphia 76ers
Tiago Splitter has struggled the past couple years since being traded from the San Antonio Spurs in the 2015 offseason, he has suffered various injuries in that two year span, and has struggled to find a good role, and so it might be time for Splitter to come back to San Antonio, in the best comeback story since LeBron James (I hope you know I’m kidding). And although Splitter left the Spurs in 2015, he really hasn’t gone that far away from the Spurs family, as since leaving the Spurs, he has played for the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers, both of which employ ex-San Antonio assistants as their head coaches, in Mike Budenholzer and Brett Brown. But it’s time for Splitter to come back to the real thing.
Due to his injuries, Splitter is likely to come cheap, although he still visually possesses most of the skills he had before his injury. He’s still quite competent in the post, with a 59.8% field goal percentage from the post in 2015-2016, and from time to time, still makes those Spurs-like passes to cutters or three-point shooters. He has also maintained a .7 defensive box plus minus over the past two years, and so let’s just say, I would not be surprised if Tiago split from the Sixers to go back to the San Antonio Spurs.
- Brandon Bass, Los Angeles Clippers
Look, I might be the biggest Brandon Bass fan ever, but it’s actually mind-boggling to me that he averages just 11.1 minutes per game this year with the Los Angeles Clippers, and that more teams have not looked at him as their first big off the bench. Sure, he used to just be one of those guys who took waaaaay too many mid-range shots (52.7% of his shots came from the mid-range from 2005-2015), but in the past two years, he started to realize that he is not LaMarcus Aldridge, and has shot just 29% of his shots from there since, and because of that, his field goal percentage moved from 49.3% from 2005-2015 to 55.9% over the past two years. And now he does what he should on the offensive end, stay on the inside. In the past two years he has taken 57.3% of his shots from within three feet, and hits those at 67.4%.
He also has the tendency to dunk everything (25.4% of his field goal attempts have been dunks over the past two years), which is kind of awesome. Over the past two years, he has also had a box plus minus of .4, meaning that he is a good guy for the San Antonio Spurs to replace David Lee with if the first two guys do not work out.
He’ll probably come pretty cheap because he was not really a regular for the Los Angeles Clippers this year, and made just 1.6 million this year.
- Jared Sullinger, Free Agent
I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, in eleven games with the Toronto Raptors, Jared Sullinger was flat out awful. He had a true shooting percentage of 35.9%, a -7.8 box plus minus and -.04 win shares per 48, and sure this could have just been a small sample size or because he was recovering from injury, but that is still pretty awful. However, let’s not forget that Sullinger was actually a pretty good player before the injury, with career averages of 10.8 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, and if there is any team that could nurse him back to that or make him even better it’s the San Antonio Spurs.
The biggest problem with Sully is that he is a pretty awful long distance shooter, but refuses to admit it. Over his career, he has taken 47.1% of his shots from ten feet or more but has proven himself to be just an average mid-range shooter and a terrible three-point shooter. I trust the Spurs to get Sully into the paint, where he has been pretty solid, and with a .8 career defensive box plus minus, and .113 career win shares per 48, Sully would be a pretty good contributor.
Due to the fact that he is currently looking for an NBA job, the Spurs would probably be able to get him with the veteran’s minimum, and if Lee, Johnson, Tiago and Bass all have jobs with other teams next year, I see no reason why the Spurs shouldn’t try out Sullinger.
Plus, since getting rid of Boris Diaw in the offseason this year, the Spurs are missing their token fatty, something that Sullinger can definitely be.
Dewayne Dedmon Replacements:
- Jeff Withey, Utah Jazz
Jeff Withey would be a very good replacement for the San Antonio Spurs when Dewayne Dedmon leaves the team in free agency for more money. Much like Dedmon, Withey is an offensively efficient, great rebounding, rim protecting seven-footer, but due to the fact that he plays behind a guy who possesses all of those skills to the extreme, in Rudy Gobert, he hasn’t really gotten off the bench much this year playing 432 minutes. In fact, Withey is pretty much in the exact same place that Dedmon was in last year with the Orlando Magic, and is treating the role about as well as Dedmon. In fact, this year Withey is almost replicating what Dedmon did last year:
And so Withey would be a great replacement for Dedmon, and he is likely to come at a similar three million dollar price tag, as well.
- Roy Hibbert, Denver Nuggets
Roy Hibbert’s fall from grace over the past few years has been pretty spectacular. He went from falsely being considered one of the best centers in the league two years ago, to falsely being considered one of the worst centers in the league last year, to simply barely playing this year. However, Hibbert definitely deserves to play. This year, Hibbert has had his most efficient offensive year, shooting above 50% for the first time in his career at 54.4%, shooting 52.9% from ten to 16 feet, and has still provided some Hibbert level rim-protection, which is always a good thing, as coaching legend Red Auerbach put it best when he said, “you can’t teach height.” And height is what Hibbert has a lot of. Standing at 7’2”, Roy Hibbert is still one of the best rim protectors in the league, with a 43.3% opposing field goal percentage at the rim, a defensive box plus minus of 1.9 and 2.4 blocks per 36 minutes.
Hibbert should definitely still be a role player in the NBA, despite playing just 682 minutes this year. But it’s that fact that will give him a cheap enough price tag for the San Antonio Spurs to snatch him up.
- Nikola Milutinov, Olympiacos Piraeus
Now I’m not going to be one of those guys who acts like they know all about EuroLeague because I have only seen a full EuroLeague game once in my life on a trip to Greece when I had a massive jones for basketball, which could not be filled by my usual NBA, so I settled for a game between what I remember was an Israeli team versus a Russian team, I think, anyways, it was a pretty good game. Whatever, the point is, I don’t really watch EuroLeague basketball all that often, but I’m assuming there is a reason why the San Antonio Spurs chose Milutinov with the 26th pick in the 2015 NBA draft. From his scouting reports, he was promised to be an athletic, lanky big man, and this year he has averaged a pretty solid 13.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per 36 minutes, on 57.5% shooting, so the San Antonio Spurs may opt to give Milutinov a try in the NBA.
- Kyle Korver, Cleveland Cavaliers
Kyle Korver is 36 years old, and still lacking of the one thing that NBA players dream of, a ring. The 45.1% three-point shooting Korver would be insanely dangerous on the San Antonio Spurs, as he would see a lot of corner threes, and he knocked those down this year at 50.5%. Korver could be one of those guys who puts the money aside to be on a title contending team, and if that is the case, the Spurs would be the perfect fit, as he has flourished playing under Mike Budenholzer (a Popovich graduate) in Atlanta.
- Anthony Morrow, Chicago Bulls
Anthony Morrow is coming off of an off year, shooting 30.8% from three-point range, however, I still trust Morrow as a three-point shooter, as proven by his 41.7% three-point percentage, and all this will do is make his price tag cheap enough for the San Antonio Spurs.
- Jodie Meeks, Orlando Magic
The past three years have not been very kind to Jodie Meeks. Meeks has suffered various injuries, leading to him playing just 99 games in that timespan without a very defined role. But he has still kept up his terrific three-point shooting this year stroking it at 40.9%. Due to his injury proneness, Meeks probably won’t see a whole lot of money flying his way, and a player like Meeks could find himself a home in San Antonio.
- Brandon Rush, Minnesota Timberwolves
For the past five years, Brandon Rush has been in the league but has never really been a contributor, playing 192 games. However, with a career three-point percentage of 40.2%, Rush has the ability to shoot the three, and if you’re noticing a trend in this article, Rush is likely to come cheap as well.