June 4, 2018, 12:41 pm
For the first time in a long time, the Spurs were caught up in a little turmoil. They spent the year waiting for major reinforcements that never came and ended up with a quiet first-round exit in the postseason. They head into the summer with a lot of questions about their relationship with their star player and roster that could be losing some longtime veterans. San Antonio is still one of the league’s model organizations but this season was far more hectic than any in recent memory.
The story of the season is undoubtedly Kawhi Leonard’s strange injury saga, but the Spurs did some things that will generally be forgotten as time passes. Manu Ginobili decided to give it another crack while Tony Parker rehabbed a brutal injury from the postseason to give San Antonio another year with two of their veteran icons. Patty Mills was re-signed to a four-year, $50 million deal. Jonathon Simmons skipped town for a nice deal in Orlando after a strong playoff run, Dewayne Dedmon left to start for the Hawks and David Lee retired. The Spurs signed Rudy Gay to an affordable deal, as his own desire to latch on with a title contender coupled with his Achilles injury cooled his market a bit. Big man Joffrey Lauvergne was also added in free agency while point guard Derrick White came via the draft.
There aren’t many needle-moving moves in there, but the Spurs also decided to retool their offense to help out the embattled LaMarcus Aldridge. The big man, who was completely exposed in the postseason, came to the front office and requested a trade. Rather than acquiesce and ship LMA away for pennies on the dollar, Gregg Popovich sat down and schemed out ways to maximize Aldridge’s game rather than ask him to be something that he isn’t. It’s a common sense approach that a lot of coaches can’t execute, so while it’s to be expected out of Pop all parties deserve some credit here.
Still, the Spurs were dealt a blow just before the season tipped off when Kawhi Leonard was announced to be out indefinitely with a quad injury. The two-way star was only expected to be out for a couple of weeks at most. His timeline kept being pushed further and further, but Aldridge was able to turn the clock back to his Portland days and take on the primary scoring burden. Just tread water, they thought.
Leonard did indeed return but felt continued pain in his quad even with workload management and heavy rest. He was put back on the shelf and while there was hope of another return as the postseason approached, the saga took its strangest turn yet when the Spurs said that it was Leonard’s own personal medical team that wouldn’t clear him to return. He went off to New York to rehab with them, the Spurs had a team meeting when he came back, and ultimately Kawhi sat out the remainder of the year. He could never shake the discomfort in his quad and wouldn’t return unless he felt 100 percent.
The Spurs weren’t the powerhouse we’ve grown to expect this season, even floating to the very bottom of the playoff picture at times. As part of a tight pack at 37-30, San Antonio won eight of their next 10 to ensure that their playoff streak lasted another year. They were promptly dispatched by the Warriors in round one and are facing some tough questions this summer as questions surround their relationship with Leonard.
Gregg Popovich’s biggest hits came off the court this season, as he wasn’t at all shy about discussing more pressing matters beyond the game. He’s got the whole basketball thing figured out, anyway.
Pop deserves a lot of credit for the aforementioned work with Aldridge, admitting that he was making life hard on his player without reaping any of the theoretical benefits. Even though Aldridge delivered, it was a definite step back for the Spurs. In their defense, it’s to be expected when a player of Leonard’s caliber is shelved indefinitely – especially when they were actually anticipating his arrival.
The Spurs plummeted in terms of offensive rating, dropping from seventh in the league in 2016-17 (108.8) to 17th (105.5). Their previously league-best defensive rating also slipped a bit, though they still managed to place fourth this year.
The issues that San Antonio faced this season extend beyond Leonard’s lack of activity, though it’s obviously the big issue. They also funneled more work into Aldridge and had to help a young point guard acclimate to the starter’s role. The addition of Rudy Gay also jammed things up a bit as the Spurs don’t typically have score-first bench guys around.
They continued to play at a slow pace and did a great job limiting turnovers but really struggled to hit their shots. While they were 25th in the league in 3-pointers attempted in 2016-17, they also led the Association with a 39.1 percent conversion rate. This past year they ranked 27th in attempts and were just 26th in the league, hitting those looks at a 35.2 percent clip. The Spurs continued to excel in the mid-range but saw a spike in the number of unassisted field goals.
And while the defense still graded out as the team’s calling card, there were minor steps back in a number of categories – opponent points in the paint, opponent fastbreak points and opponent second-chance points among them.
Still, Pop is a league icon and did guide a team without its superstar back to the postseason in a cutthroat Western Conference. The performance this year has far more to do with personnel than the man with the clipboard.
ADP: 8/8 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 363/356 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 32/24 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 9
2017-18 averages: 9 G | 9 GS | 23.3 MP | 16.2 PTS | 1.2 3PM | 4.7 REB | 2.3 AST | 2.0 STL | 1.0 BLK | 1.8 TOV | .468 FG% | .816 FT% |
Well, at least Leonard was decent when he actually saw the court. Clearly out of shape, but still a quality player. That’s about it as far as good news, as Leonard’s season was one of the worst ever for a first-round fantasy star. It’s not the fact that he was injured so much as it was the idea that he was nearing a return. It forced his owners to stay in a holding pattern, soaking up a valuable roster spot for a player that would end up making minimal impact. By the time most owners felt free to cut the cord, their seasons were already down the tubes.
Leonard hit the injury report at the end of September with right quad tendinopathy, rumored to be connected to the quad issues he dealt with in 2016-17. While the team ruled him out for the preseason it was speculated that he was only day-to-day and would return within the first few weeks of the season despite having no official timetable. Two weeks later it was confirmed that Kawhi would miss the season opener and remained without a timetable. In November it finally came out that Leonard was progressing, and the team targeted a mid-December return date for their star.
What was thought to be day-to-day quickly became week-to-week and Leonard didn’t suit up until game No. 27 on the year. He was given heavy minutes restrictions and sat out more than back-to-back sets, playing his nine games across a 17-game stretch.
He made it eight games before being diagnosed with a partial left shoulder tear, though concerns were assuaged a bit when he returned from a three-game layoff with a sterling performance against the Nuggets: 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists, four steals and a block in 28 minutes. It would go down as Leonard’s final game of the season.
He hit the injury report again on January 17 with more right quad soreness, and his nebulous timetable quickly snowballed. Termed “out indefinitely” to rehab, Leonard headed to New York in February. He worked out at a gym there while seeking further consultation on his quad, and it was at this point that rumors of a rift between him and the organization began to sprout. Later that month, Pop says that he’d be surprised if Leonard returns at all during the season. The Spurs had cleared him at this point, but Leonard opted to remain out as he was still feeling discomfort. He’d later head back to New York for more of the same.
In March, reports circulate about a team meeting where a few players try to convince Kawhi to come back for the playoff push, though others roundly deny that that was what transpired. By April, Pop openly states that Leonard’s return is up to his own personal medical team. He’s quickly ruled out for the postseason because of lingering discomfort, and here we are.
The Kawhi situation will be one of the bigger summertime stories, as an organization that’s idolized by the rest of the league has run into their first rough patch in recent memory. It was rumored that Leonard might have been healthy enough to return but chose to keep sitting as a result of his issues with the team, perhaps to work his way out of San Antonio. Despite public statements otherwise, things aren’t quite right between the two parties here – especially if the two medical teams are disagreeing to this degree. One side says he was ready in March and the other insists that he wasn’t ever feeling 100 percent. If any of the rumors are true, the Spurs are likely spending their time deciding whether Leonard is sticking around for the long haul or being traded away for a king’s ransom ahead of his contract year. He’ll be a strong fantasy option no matter which uniform he’s sporting but owners are likely to tread cautiously after this nightmare campaign.
That’s a lot of virtual ink for a guy who played in nine games.
ADP: 50/52 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 21/13 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 27/18 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 75
2017-18 averages: 75 G | 75 GS | 33.5 MP | 23.1 PTS | 0.4 3PM | 8.5 REB | 2.0 AST | 0.6 STL | 1.2 BLK | 1.5 TOV | .510 FG% | .837 FT% |
Amid rumors of discontent that were later confirmed by Gregg Popovich, the Spurs took to mending their relationship with Aldridge and it paid off in spades with one of the big man’s finest seasons to date. Once a trade candidate, LMA ended up signing an extension with the Spurs that will keep him around until 2020-21. It turns out all it took was some honest conversation, a commitment to change and some expensive wine.
Aldridge was asked to stay more in his comfort zone and absolutely dominated the block, authoring a resurgent campaign by just about any standard. In his 12-year career, Aldridge’s marks in scoring, field goal percentage, free throw percentage and blocks this season were all good enough for top-3 standing. He was recognized for his efforts with a selection to the All-NBA Second Team.
He was tasked with a heavy burden whenever he played and kept the Spurs afloat with Kawhi Leonard absent. If not for Aldridge’s fine work, they would have likely missed out on the postseason. He missed three games with a sore right knee and another with a sprained ankle but was mostly healthy. The fact that his bounceback came without Kawhi does lead to some major questions though, especially as Aldridge was more of a middle-round player the last time the two shared the court for most of a season.
The Spurs rewrote some of their playbook to make Aldridge more effective, but they didn’t need to worry about balancing the offensive attack between their two stars. Surely they won’t undo all the changes but would they risk alienating Leonard further by sacrificing some of his touches? LMA worked with usage rates of 25.9 and 24.5 in his first two years as a Spur only for that to jump to 29.1 this season – that’s reminiscent of his late-Portland days. His field goal attempts went from 14.1 and 14.6 to a flat 18.0 this year. It was undeniably a great season for Aldridge, but it’s tough to determine how much of that was on him and how much can be chalked up to circumstance.
While his ADP is unlikely to reflect his top-20 finish, Aldridge might get enough of a bump to slice off a healthy chunk of profit margin. He’s shaping up as one of the riskier picks in the early-middle rounds.
ADP: N/A / 143 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 121/141 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 178/199 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 81
2017-18 averages: 81 G | 48 GS | 21.5 MP | 8.1 PTS | 0.1 3PM | 5.7 REB | 2.9 AST | 1.2 STL | 0.4 BLK | 1.7 TOV | .443 FG% | .709 FT% |
Murray’s season wasn’t as smooth as it could’ve been, but his sophomore campaign showed plenty of promise for the future. He’s a lengthy, tenacious defender and an intelligent rebounder. That’s a great base for the San Antonio coaching staff to work with, and his offense and playmaking will come over time.
Unfortunately, his current skillset didn’t lend itself to serious fantasy value. Murray’s an elite point guard in terms of rebounds and a solid option for steals and blocks, but other than that his fantasy game left owners wanting more. At least for this season.
If nothing else, it’s clear that the team is set on Murray as a long-term starter. He was initially replaced in the starting five by Patty Mills and was supplanted by Tony Parker for a stretch, but Pop ultimately decided to roll with the youngster. He started every game from January 21 onward and averaged 10.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals and 0.5 blocks in 26.5 minutes a night over those final 34 games. That has the looks of his floor going forward as the Spurs clear out room for Murray to operate, and fantasy players will be happy to hear that those numbers were good for top-80 returns.
Whether he makes that exact leap next year remains to be seen but Murray is shaping up as a worthwhile roll of the dice as the draft gets into the later rounds. Personnel changes probably won’t affect his baseline much since he’s reliant on defense and rebounding, so hopefully he can make some jumps on offense.
ADP: 92/98 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 85/83 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 120/112 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 77
2017-18 averages: 77 G | 63 GS | 23.5 MP | 10.1 PTS | 0.6 3PM | 8.0 REB | 3.1 AST | 0.3 STL | 1.1 BLK | 1.4 TOV | .458 FG% | .756 FT% |
Gasol had a few notable developments in his stat profile this year but was a solid contributor for the Spurs, staying healthy enough to play while flexing his basketball IQ at every turn. The big man actually led the team in assists this season and was a solid rebounder and rim protector, as expected. Gasol does have some limitations in his game and suffered from some serious 3-point regression, but was worth the trouble overall. In a season with so many moving parts, a dependable guy like Gasol was great to have around both on and off the court.
It’s tough to get past the huge dip in Gasol’s 3-point efficiency this year. In 2016-17 he was an unbelievable .538 from deep before freefalling to .358 this year. That is a major reason that his overall efficiency fell from .502 to a career-worst .458 as well. He’s around 36 percent for his career and is somewhere in between his last two campaigns in terms of true talent level, so for now it seems like he should bounce back somewhat in that regard.
Gasol was also held back by low playing time, as his new career-low of 23.5 mpg led to a paltry 1.0 blocks per game, tying for the worst output in his 17-year career. There were still some encouraging signs, however, as his rebound rate remained strong and his assist rate skyrocketed to a career-high.
Though he played in a ton of games, Gasol popped up on the injury report a few times. He missed a single game for each of a sore groin, sprained right wrist, left knee bone bruise and sore shoulder, plus one rest day. The shoulder injury almost surely lingered, as Gasol shot .460 from the field before the injury and was just .446 thereafter (he also saw a decline in 3-point attempts), closing the season on a notable downswing.
Gasol did well to churn out a positive fantasy campaign for the most part. From a real-life perspective, he had his legs cut out from under him a bit by the Kawhi injury. Gasol isn’t the scorer he used to be (especially if his high-variance shots all miss) and his passing acumen is wasted with the team’s lead dog in street clothes and the remaining cast consisting of young or streaky wings and two mid-range ISO guys. You’re relying on solid per-minute production from Gasol these days, but he’s got the toolkit to make it worth your while. No longer a fantasy dynamo, the veteran should remain a nice, cheap-ish option for rebounds, assists, blocks and hopefully 3-pointers.
ADP: 140/137 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 139/122 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 146/126 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 70
2017-18 averages: 70 G | 60 GS | 25.6 MP | 8.6 PTS | 1.7 3PM | 3.6 REB | 1.6 AST | 0.9 STL | 1.1 BLK | 1.1 TOV | .387 FG% | .769 FT% |
Green continued his run as one of the most maddening fantasy players around this season, offering up just enough cash counters to deliver standard league value but failing to reach the heights that once placed him in the middle rounds. He’s definitely on some “never again” lists and it’s understandable, though Green absolutely has a home in most formats.
While this was his third consecutive year under 38 percent from deep after four straight years north of 41 percent, he has managed to land in the .370 range after bottoming out at 33.2 percent in 2015-16. Considering that most of his shots come from 3-point range, there’s no shot he climbs above 40 percent from the field unless he starts hitting the longball more efficiently. His steals dipped below 1.0 per game for the first time since 2011-12, but that was mostly offset by a jump from 0.8 to 1.1 blocks per night.
Green also dealt with some time on the mend, missing one game with an illness, another with a sore hamstring and 10 with groin tightness and soreness. He’s almost a lock to miss some time and will be a frustrating player to own, but he’s still an asset in roto leagues at the very least.
ADP: 140/142 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 142/145 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 194/202 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 82
2017-18 averages: 82 G | 36 GS | 25.7 MP | 10.0 PTS | 1.9 3PM | 1.9 REB | 2.8 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.1 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .411 FG% | .890 FT% |
Mills was there through it all this season, occupying a number of roles across his 82 games to help drag the Spurs over the finish line. He’s been a valuable guy who can plug whatever holes pop up as needed but he did seem to struggle a bit with the different role changes before settling in as the starting shooting guard.
The ups and downs were manifested in his shooting percentage, where he posted the second worst season of his career and the worst marks in three seasons. He also saw a decline in assists and steals and only posted marginal bumps in scoring, 3-pointers and rebounds despite a decent boost in playing time.
Sometimes the best ability is availability, and Mills has ridden good health to fringe finishes in 12-team formats. Having missed just three games in the last three seasons, the Aussie is a competent option if you’re in need of triples. If he returns to the bench role that he seems far more comfortable with it wouldn’t be crazy to expect a little extra in the assists department as well. Mills is far from an exciting fantasy player but always seems to deliver by the end of the year.
ADP: 93/96 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 191/187 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 155/149 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 57
2017-18 averages: 57 G | 6 GS | 21.6 MP | 11.5 PTS | 0.6 3PM | 5.1 REB | 1.3 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.7 BLK | 1.4 TOV | .471 FG% | .772 FT% |
Gay decided to forgo more money to latch on with the Spurs, a serious title contender. It seems like the allure of a ring (or even a postseason appearance; Gay’s made it just twice 12 years) will take on more importance than cold hard cash, so we’ll see what Gay does about his opt-out clause. He made a surprisingly quick return from his brutal Achilles injury, needing just 10 months off to get back on the court, but did end up missing big chunks of time with other ailments. Heel bursitis was the big one, as two single-game absences with a sore right heel eventually turned into 23 straight on the sidelines. Gay also blew out an eardrum in March but didn’t miss time.
He was still fairly effective when he was active, however, moving into a secondary or tertiary role pretty seamlessly. Gay was a solid go-to option when the Spurs really needed a bucket but was otherwise comfortable to keep the offense flowing. Of course, older players joining the Spurs typically means less playing time and Gay’s stats were affected pretty heavily by the drop to just 21.6 mpg.
He tied career-lows in blocks and assists, set new career-lows in 3-pointers and steals and had the worst numbers since his rookie year in rebounds and scoring. On the plus side, he did establish a new career-high in field goal percentage. While Gay was a pleasant surprise in terms of on-court impact, it’s tough to assess his true role when the Spurs are fully healthy. Either way he seems relegated to the low twenties as far as playing time goes, which won’t be enough to support standard league value.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 68/59 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 87/78 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 74
2017-18 averages: 74 G | 67 GS | 26.7 MP | 7.9 PTS | 0.3 3PM | 5.4 REB | 2.7 AST | 1.6 STL | 0.8 BLK | 1.3 TOV | .527 FG% | .712 FT% |
Anderson was called on to fill a big role with Kawhi out and Jonathon Simmons in Orlando and responded with a career season. Slo Mo delivered career-highs in every major fantasy category besides free throw percentage, and while it was largely driven by a big spike in playing time it was a nice showcase of his ability to pump out the supplementary stats. Those steals and blocks aren’t a common combination, and Anderson was plucked from the wire in just about all formats.
If there’s one thing that held Anderson back a bit, it was his general unwillingness to rise and fire from 3-point territory. He’s only a 33.8 percent shooter for his career and keeping those attempts in check certainly helped him blast past his previous career-high from the field overall (up to .527 from .468 two years ago), but if Anderson doesn’t develop that part of his game it’ll hurt the Spurs overall.
A human changeup, his herky-jerk style can throw defenders off balance with ease and his defensive versatility will be huge for San Antonio going forward. He missed eight December games with a sprained MCL but was otherwise healthy, and the extra opportunities afforded to him led to a solid middle-round campaign. He has the looks of a solid pick in the final few rounds of standard leagues if you’re in need of defensive stats.
ADP: 140/134 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 215/242 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 232/265 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 65
2017-18 averages: 65 G | 0 GS | 20.0 MP | 8.9 PTS | 1.0 3PM | 2.2 REB | 2.5 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.2 BLK | 1.6 TOV | .434 FG% | .840 FT% |
It was thought that Ginobili would retire after the 2016-17 season after he started getting some farewell tour treatment, but the veteran decided that he still had enough left in the tank for at least one more season. It’s a good thing he did, as the Spurs gave him more work than they were probably hoping to at the ripe old age of 40.
The Leonard situation plus the fleeting offensive efficacy of the rest of the backcourt meant that Ginobili was leaned on more heavily than he has been in the recent past. He saw his minutes per game increase for the first time in eight years and cracked 20 mpg for the first time in three seasons. The veteran did miss six games with a sore thigh and another with a bruised sternum before dealing with a heel issue in the playoffs, but San Antonio made sure to give him a handful of nights off throughout the year.
Despite the increases in minutes, usage and scoring, Ginobili wasn’t much of a fantasy asset. We wouldn’t expect that to change if he chooses to return for another campaign. It’s possible that Manu won’t want things to end on the sour note of this year’s uncompetitive playoff series, and fantasy concerns aside it’d be very cool to see him come back for one more shot.
ADP: 140/136 (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 288/306 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 321/353 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 55
2017-18 averages: 55 G | 21 GS | 19.5 MP | 7.7 PTS | 0.2 3PM | 1.7 REB | 3.5 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.0 BLK | 1.2 TOV | .459 FG% | .705 FT% |
For the first time since 2001, someone other than Tony Parker started at point guard for the Spurs on opening night. With the franchise icon set for unrestricted free agency, it could be the end of the line as the Spurs look ready to move on. He managed to return ahead of schedule from a torn quad tendon suffered in the postseason, returning to action in late November after missing 19 games. He got plenty of rest after coming back and only missed two other games with an injury all season – one each for a sprained ankle and sore back.
There was both a literal and figurative changing of the guard in San Antonio despite Parker’s health, however, as his run as a starter lasted just 21 games before Pop named Dejounte Murray his starter. Parker was reportedly gracious with the situation and was a willing mentor for Murray, who is undoubtedly the future here. With the quad injury sapping his quickness, Parker is even more reliant on his mid-range game these days. Coming off the worst statistical season of his career and heading into a murky free agent market, there’s no reason to bother monitoring Parker in fantasy leagues.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 238/219 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 306/279 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 77
2017-18 averages: 77 G | 10 GS | 14.1 MP | 5.9 PTS | 1.2 3PM | 2.0 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.3 STL | 0.4 BLK | 0.5 TOV | .440 FG% | .816 FT% |
Bertans appeared to be much the same player that he was as a rookie this season, though his intriguing skillset does leave potential for bigger and better things as he continues to develop as an NBA player. He got his most consistent run of the season in January and unsurprisingly topped his season averages therein, but generally his playing time was subject to wild swings given his lack of a consistent role.
A restricted free agent who’s still just 25 and a coveted floor-stretching big, Bertans will get more chances to prove his NBA worth. There are enough tools here to capture the imagination of fantasy owners but you should wait for some tangible progress before investing.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 282/275 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 388/371 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 80
2017-18 averages: 80 G | 12 GS | 19.0 MP | 6.9 PTS | 1.1 3PM | 1.4 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.0 BLK | 0.5 TOV | .421 FG% | .667 FT% |
The first NBA player ever named Bryn (Torgeir Bryn doesn’t count), Forbes took a big step forward in his second year. The injuries ahead of him definitely helped but the youngster was able to come in and space the floor (just under half of his shots were from 3-point land), albeit inconsistently. An occasional starter, Forbes had a few nice scoring games but wasn’t high enough on the totem pole to make a sustained offensive impact.
His 39 percent mark from deep is an encouraging sign, and if nothing else Forbes has the looks of a low-end 3-point specialist. He should be able to squeeze something out of his restricted free agency but is only a niche fantasy option barring a massive breakthrough.
ADP: N/A / N/A (ESPN/Yahoo) | Total Value: 356/359 (8/9-cat) | Per-Game Value: 427/433 (8/9-cat) | Games Played: 55
2017-18 averages: 55 G | 1 GS | 9.7 MP | 4.1 PTS | 0.1 3PM | 3.1 REB | 0.7 AST | 0.2 STL | 0.1 BLK | 0.6 TOV | .516 FG% | .638 FT% |
Lauvergne has taken some steps back since his promising age-24 campaign with the Nuggets, spending time with Chicago and Oklahoma City in 2016-17 before signing on with the Spurs last offseason. He seems to be shying away from the 3-point range that he flashed as a younger player and is just a bit part in the rotation, though his other skills are a nice fit for the organization. He missed 10 games after appearing on the injury report with a sprained ankle, though most of those games were for a personal matter, and dealt with a dislocated finger in December that dogged him for the rest of the year. It’d take a ton of injuries or frontcourt upheaval for Lauvergne to do anything worthwhile in fantasy, assuming he exercises his player option. Or even if he doesn’t, really.
Figure the Kawhi stuff out fast. It feels strange to be talking about the Spurs dealing with a player who is upset with the organization, but if it’s true it’ll have major implications on the team’s future. It still seems more likely that Leonard’s frustrations were either misdirected or blown out of proportion, so signing a super-max deal is still on the table. Beyond that, just try and get him healthy. This is a team that can take down the best of the best when Leonard is at full strength, so a clean bill of health is the biggest thing they can acquire over the summer. Some more growth from Forbes and Bertans would be nice, and hopefully they can keep Aldridge rolling along like this even when Leonard returns. The Spurs weren’t a serious threat to anyone this season, but there would be absolutely nobody surprised if they jumped right back into the title mix next year.
May 23, 2020, 9:43 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Ramona Shelburne of ESPN reported that the NBA has entered "exploratory conversations" with Disney on restarting the season at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.
NBA spokesperson Mike Bass said the NBA and NBPA have discussed with Disney on restarting the season in late July. Marc Stein reported on Friday that it is looking increasingly likely that games will resume in July, and it appears that the stage for the rest of the 2019-20 season is likely to be Orlando.
May 23, 2020, 9:32 pmLaMelo BallPG, International
The Knicks have LaMelo Ball as their top-rated point guard for the 2020 NBA Draft.
The Knicks have a need at point guard and Ball is considered the point guard with the highest upside in this draft. He had poor shooting numbers in his 12 games in the NBL this past season, shooting .250 from deep and .375 from the field. He is a gifted passer though and averaged 6.8 assists per game in 31.3 minutes, adding 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals. If Ball was drafted by the Knicks, he could help younger players RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson get easier looks. Ball will likely be given an opportunity to run the offense by the team that drafts him and he could put up big assists numbers. He also has an impressive steal rate in limited play in Australia, but his shooting percentages are a big concern.
May 23, 2020, 9:15 pmBradley BealSG, Washington Wizards
Bradley Beal’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, said “There are no Beal Sweepstakes and that’s why he re-signed with the Wizards.”
Bartelstein continued to say “Brad re-signed with the Wizards because he wanted to stay in Washington and the Wizards wanted to keep him there.” Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reported earlier in the week that the Nets had internal discussions with the Wizards for Beal. A trade out of Washington would likely hurt Beal’s fantasy value, but it’s not worth putting too much stock into trade rumors for Beal in dynasty leagues.
May 22, 2020, 9:13 pmJonathan IsaacPF, Orlando Magic
Jonathan Isaac, who sustained a serious left knee injury in January, said his knee is "feeling strong" and that he has been squatting increasingly more weight recently.
Isaac also said recently that he's open to returning if and when the NBA season is resumed and as long as the Magic organization is on-board with it. He has been running on an anti-gravity treadmill and indicated that his knee feels "110 percent" after more than four months of rehab. Isaac is a huge part of the Magic's future and it remains to be seen whether or not they will take the risk.
Source: John Denton on Twitter
May 22, 2020, 8:59 pmStephen CurryPG, Golden State Warriors
Certain NBA franchises in highly-restricted areas due to COVID-19 are inquiring with league officials about heading straight to the proposed "bubbles" rather than heading to an alternate location to train, completing a quarantine, then going to the bubble and completing a second quarantine period, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
The idea behind this is to avoid quarantining twice, first for a training period and then for again when they reach the bubble. Since players on these teams are (theoretically) already under heavy self-quarantine restrictions, this could potentially come to fruition. It seems like a realistic proposition at this point, although everything is still in a planning stage as far as an NBA return is concerned. Only time will tell and there are rumblings that teams are preparing to recall the majority of their players on or around June 1. It seems like some definitive announcements might finally be somewhat imminent.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
May 22, 2020, 8:43 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
According to Marc Stein, NBA teams are likely going to be limited to "bring (roughly) 35 players/coaches/staff into a 'campus' environment if the 2019-20 season…resumes in July."
The continuation of the season is looking increasingly likely to happen in July. Those travel parties of 35, notably, have not mentioned the players' families (or anybody's family members, for that matter). There will undoubtedly be further developments as the situation materializes.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
May 22, 2020, 8:15 pmDonovan MitchellSG, Utah Jazz
Jerry Sloan, former coach of the Jazz and a member of the Hall-of-Fame (as a coach), passed away at the age of 78 on Friday due to complications in his battle against Parkinson's Disease.
Before his illustrious career on the sidelines as a coach for the Jazz, Sloan had a solid run as a player. He made two All-Star games and was a six-time All-Defensive selection. As a coach, he racked up 1,223 victories and an impressive total of 20 playoff berths. Sloan guided the Jazz to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances in the late 1990s with a roster headlined by Karl Malone and John Stockton. Unfortunately for the Jazz, they were twice beaten by Michael Jordan and the Bulls in their final two titles of the "second three-peat," which is a hot topic of conversation at the moment with the final two episodes of the Jordan documentary "The Last Dance" (where Sloan is featured throughout) airing just last Sunday. Rest in peace, Jerry Sloan.
May 22, 2020, 5:23 pmAlexey ShvedG, International
Spanish national basketball coach Sergio Scariolo feels that Alexey Shved will receive offers to return to the NBA this offseason.
Shved is currently playing in Russia where he is the focal point of Khimki, but the possibility remains that the 31-year-old may want to test himself against NBA competition before his body gets past its prime. For what it's worth, Scariolo predicted that Shved would stay in Russia where he is already comfortable.
May 22, 2020, 4:08 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Marc Stein is reporting that teams are being told they'll be able to bring a total of 35 people into a "campus" environment if the season resumes.
The 35-person party is a rough estimate at this time. Stein noted that NBA travel parties routinely exceed 50 individuals, indicating that this will not be a simple arrangement to plan for. Players, coaches and staff will all go into that figure. Stein also mentioned that it is increasingly expected that the season will resume in July. We still have a long way until the calendar gets there, but the NBA clearly has this goal in mind.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
May 22, 2020, 3:55 pmJonathan IsaacPF, Orlando Magic
Jonathan Isaac shared that his sprained left knee is feeling strong as he continues to rehab the 4-month old injury.
Isaac's rehab has been going smoothly to date, and he also put his highest squat rack weight up since sustaining the injury. Moreover, Isaac appeared on an anti-gravity treadmill for the first time this week. Everything is still heading in the right direction, indicating that the playoffs are still a possibility if Isaac's rehab continues going well.
Source: John Denton on Twitter