Spurs' 2022 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After NBA Playoff Loss

Erin WalshContributor IApril 14, 2022

Spurs' 2022 Free Agents, Targets and Draft Needs After NBA Playoff Loss

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The San Antonio Spurs were eliminated from the 2022 NBA play-in tournament with an 113-103 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

    San Antonio used a 16-1 run in the fourth quarter to cut the lead to single digits, but New Orleans managed to pull away down the stretch. It's the second straight season that the Spurs were eliminated in the play-in.

    It was a solid campaign for Gregg Popovich's side, which finished the regular season with a 34-48 record to hold off the Los Angeles Lakers for the final spot in the tournament.

    Rising stars Keldon Johnson and Dejounte Murray were a big reason the Spurs found success this season, but they'll need to do some retooling this offseason to remain competitive in an increasingly difficult Western Conference.

    That said, let's take a look at San Antonio's free agents and some potential targets in free agency.

Projected Free Agents

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    Eric Gay/Associated Press

    Lonnie Walker IV (RFA), Devontae Cacok (RFA), Joe Wieskamp (RFA), Robert Woodard II (RFA), DJ Stewart (RFA)

    The most notable free agent here is Lonnie Walker IV, whom the Spurs drafted 18th overall in 2018. The 23-year-old has improved in each of his four seasons in San Antonio and had the best season of his career in 2021-22.

    Walker averaged 12.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game while shooting 40.7 percent from the floor and 31.4 percent from beyond the arc.

    Walker serves as San Antonio's starting shooting guard. If he doesn't return for the 2022-23 season, it's unclear how the franchise would replace him.

    However, some combination of Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell in the starting lineup could potentially work. Josh Richardson and Joshua Primo are also options.

    In addition to restricted free agents, the Spurs have a couple of players who could become unrestricted free agents if their contracts aren't guaranteed by a certain date, including Zach Collins and Tre Jones, per Spotrac.

    Vassell and Primo also have club options entering the 2022-23 season.

Potential Free Agents/Trade Targets

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    The Spurs are in an ongoing rebuild, which means they probably aren't going to spend big in free agency, especially with three first-round picks in the 2022 draft.

    However, there are some veterans who might be worth adding.

    After using Doug McDermott and Zach Collins as their power forward during the 2021-22 season, the Spurs could stand to add some help at the position.

    Considering the franchise won't be willing to dish out the cash for one of the more significant free agents, Robert Covington, Montrezl Harrell, Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony could be potential options.

    Covington spent the 2021-22 season split between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers. While his offensive production has been down over the last few seasons, he would still be an impactful addition for San Antonio.

    The 31-year-old averaged 8.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 71 games during the 2021-22 season. He is also a defensive-minded player, and the Spurs could use that after finishing with an 111.7 defensive rating, which was 16th in the league.

    Harrell would probably cost more than Covington, but he's an effective player both offensively and defensively, so it might be worth it for the Spurs.

    The 28-year-old averaged 13.1 points 6.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 71 games during the 2021-22 season, which he split between the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets.

    Like Harrell, Anthony would likely be a higher-priced option but could pay off. He averaged 13.3 points and 4.2 rebounds off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2021-22 season.

    Even at 37 years old, he's still an effective player.

    Griffin, meanwhile, is not the player he once was and could come cheap after a 2021-22 season in which he averaged 6.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists for a Brooklyn Nets team that finished seventh in the Eastern Conference.

Potential Draft Targets

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The Spurs will have three first-round draft picks in the 2022 NBA draft, and they'll have the opportunity to make some serious upgrades to their roster.

    That said, three players the franchise should target are Iowa Hawkeyes star Keegan Murray, the Arizona Wildcats' Bennedict Mathurin and the Memphis Tigers' Jalen Duren.

    Murray would be an intriguing pick for the Spurs. The 6'8", 225-pound forward had an impressive sophomore season for the Hawkeyes. He averaged 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 55.4 percent from the floor and 39.8 percent from deep in 35 games.

    Murray's combination of size and offensive talent would be a welcomed addition alongside Keldon Johnson.

    Mathurin, meanwhile, is an offensive-minded combo guard-forward who could work well in Popovich's system. The sophomore averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists while shooting 45.0 percent from the floor and 36.9 percent from deep in 37 games.

    However, he's not the best defensively, which could turn San Antonio off from drafting him. If the team thinks it can help Mathurin work on his defense, he would be a solid addition.

    Finally, Duren is a defensive-minded big man who could be an anchor in the San Antonio defense for years to come. The freshman center averaged 12.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting 59.7 percent from the floor in 29 games.

    With Jakob Poeltl's contract set to expire after the 2022-23 season, Duran could be a solid addition.