Like it or not, this offseason will mark the start of a new era in the NBA.
That means a changing of the guard. Out with the old, in with the new.
For teams like the San Antonio Spurs, who have been among the NBA's best for so long, that is not a happy thought.
Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili are not as young as they used to be. You could argue that they all hit their prime and are on the decline.
The Spurs tried to gain athleticism with Richard Jefferson, but it did not pay off. Now, with the swingman likely re—signing, there is not much room for flexibility this offseason in San Antonio.
But there is some. Roger Mason and Matt Bonner are both off the books after each made more than $3 million in 2010. The Spurs also lose Keith Bogans and Ian Mahinmi.
So who could the Spurs possibly nab during free agency to put a spring in their veterans' steps? Here are 10 possibilities.
Unlikely? Yes, absolutely.
Gay would ideally become what Jefferson was not to this team. He would help take the pressure off Ginobili to slash. He would be able to take advantage of Parker's speed and Duncan's passing from the post.
Now the real question: How feasible is this?
The answer: Much more likely than you may think. Gay is a restricted free agent (like many players on this list) so cap space is not necessarily an indicator of success in getting him, especially since the Grizzlies are possibly talking sign—and—trade.
Packaging the right players together could give the Spurs a chance to contend. The question is who, especially since Gay will likely command a huge contract.
If the Grizzlies are interested in freeing up cap space for the following season, Jefferson would make a nice swap with Gay.
Will Josh Childress come back to the NBA? Probably.
And he could be a bargain for whichever team tries to target him. Of course, he is a restricted free agent with the Hawks, so they have matching rights.
Again, the question will be who the Spurs could dangle in front of the Hawks to make a potential sign—and—trade deal. Jefferson would not do the trick, as he will command a lot more money than either the Spurs or Hawks are willing to shell out for Childress.
Perhaps a combination of Antonio McDyess and George Hill? That would be about $5.5 million in contracts. But the Hawks could probably do better, or be better off keeping Childress.
Another restricted free agent.
More importantly, he has been in the league a few years and is only 23 years old.
Playing with a star like Duncan who is also well—versed in the fundamentals could pay off big for Thomas, and therefore the Spurs as well.
Thomas and DeJuan Blair would prove to be a nice complementary duo to Duncan in the frontcourt. Thomas has athleticism that neither of the other two have, though he is also more inconsistent.
Still, he would be a good add for a team in need of a spark.
A Duncan-Haywood combo? Forget about getting any open looks in the lane.
He's the first of the mentioned free agents to be unrestricted. He's also 30 and has not had a stellar NBA career, so he could fit nicely into the Spurs' price range.
Duncan has not really had a true center to play with since David Robinson left, which has of course not been detrimental to his game or the Spurs. However, as he gets older, he may be able to preserve himself better if he did not have to bang with the bigger players.
Enter Haywood. He could play a reasonable 25-30 minutes per game and put up a double-double, while also altering shots on the defensive end. I like the fit a lot, particularly as the Spurs become an increasingly half—court team.
Ah, back to the restricted free agents.
Redick is going to be more of a hot commodity than people expect in free agency, mark my words. He has worked hard to get in the position he is in now.
He is stronger (didn't have those guns at Duke) and a better defender than he has ever been.
Oh yeah, and he can still shoot as well as anyone in the world.
I could envision Redick playing the Bruce Bowen role of past Spurs teams. He's a hard—nosed defender who will lurk on the perimeter and bury corner three—pointers.
Brewer is a tall shooting guard who is a great defender. He would make a great fit on the Spurs.
He is also a restricted free agent, but with the Grizzlies trying to sign Gay, he may become an afterthought.
Actually, he is like the defensive version of Gay (who is more of an offensive player). Like Redick, he could take on the Bowen role, and at 25, he could do so for many years.
He might slip past many teams, so if the Spurs want him and pursue hard, there's a good chance they could end up with Brewer.
Will he ever be the same player he was in Dallas?
Some team is going to find out. And it's a gamble that could pay off big time.
He tore his ACL last season but should be ready for the regular season. He is an unrestricted free agent, and it's doubtful that any team is going to offer more than a mid—level contract to Howard.
That could be the Spurs' chance to swoop in and hope Howard can be the wild card and game—changer that he was in Dallas.
Wesley Matthews is the same story as many of the other players.
Tall shooting guard. Great defender. Solid perimeter shooter. 23 years old. Restricted free agent.
Considering he went undrafted, the Jazz found a gem that several other teams are probably going to try to steal away.
The Spurs would be wise to be one of the teams to try and do so.
If successful, they would acquire a young asset who could be a nice role player for the long haul. And Matthews would fit with the persona of the locker room, as many of the Spurs players were diamonds in the rough as well.
I could just say the exact same thing about Morrow as was said about Matthews.
He was also bypassed by every team in the draft, and turned into a dangerous scorer for Golden State. Yes, it is Golden State, but he proved he could flat out shoot and score with consistency.
He connected on 46 percent of his three—pointers during his first two years in the league.
He is a restricted free agent, but at 24 years of age, teams will be willing to pay a lot for his potential. Golden State might not be able to keep him.
He might not be the best fit in San Antonio right now, but if the Spurs are considering signing a point guard for the future, or even one to take some wear and tear off Tony Parker, Lowry could be their guy.
He's a short 6'0'', but his speed more than makes up for his size. Paired with Aaron Brooks in Houston last season, Lowry probably did not get the playing time he deserved.
He can stay within Texas and get a lot more in San Antonio.
With all the movement set to happen starting on July 1st, the old guard like the Spurs cannot afford to sit around with their team. These young players could be the difference-makers.