The San Antonio Spurs have won five titles and are once again amongst the favorites to raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy, which would be a storybook conclusion to the Tim Duncan Era. While Duncan has embodied the Spurs culture, his on-court role has diminished and given way to the emergence of the two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard. Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge are now the primary weapons of the Spurs — who churn out 50+ win seasons like McDonald’s pumps out Big Macs — and it doesn’t look like they’ll be stopping anytime soon.
There’s still games to play but that begs the question: Why aren’t the Spurs ever in the conversation as an offseason free agency destination?
A simple answer could be they’ve eschewed making big splashy signings in the past and are choosy about who they bring in, which is accurate. But when 2016 NBA Executive of the Year RC Buford and the rest of the brain trust in San Antonio inked Aldridge to a 4-year $80 million dollar deal, it began a new day deep in the heart of Texas.
The Spurs are currently locked in a tight series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, yet have already been rumored to be making a run at Kevin Durant should he opt to leave OKC.
Here’s five reasons why KD, or any free agent, should heavily consider joining the silver and black.
The Spurs have the highest winning percentage in NBA history at over 60%. If you are an elite NBA talent, you are going to be measured by championships. The Spurs are consistently in the hunt. Before LeBron James left his “hometown” team and joined his chief rival in Miami, idiots in barbershops and TV studios from coast to coast claimed he lacked a “clutch gene”. One ring later the talk stopped. Winning cures all sins and joining the Spurs would be the basketball equivalent of holy communion.
You don’t get all of those wins without great coaching and development of talent. Gregg Popovich not only knows how to get the best out of his players, he also gets the best out of the rest of the coaching staff. Popovich’s standing alone should garner interest from any prospective player; look what playing for Pop has done for the never in shape Boris Diaw. We all want to be pushed to maximize our potential— NBA players are no different. Kevin Durant could reach an even higher level if he had Popovich in his corner instead of Billy Donovan.
Even a great coach needs talent to win at the highest levels and the Spurs have talent in spades. Kawhi Leonard is in his fifth year and right in his prime, as are Danny Green and LaMarcus Aldridge. Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, David West and Tim Duncan are past their primes for the most part but have each still had great moments in this season’s playoffs and playoffs of recent years. As the old guard moves along, the Spurs will remain a contender with a roster ready-made for a free agent who is ready to make the leap into history.
That video shows what talent and great coaching can get you.
It’s great to be rich, I’m assuming, but it’s always great to be rich in Texas. It’s well-known that the taxes in Texas are less punitive than say New York, which means more money in your pocket. With the tax brackets players of Kevin Durant’s ilk reside in, they aren’t going to be missing any meals. Still, free agency can be a once in a lifetime chance to control one’s own destiny, and every dollar counts. The NBA is a business; it’s rare that a player, even a great one, will play for nearly two decades like Tim Duncan or Kobe Bryant so it would behoove a star player to make as much money from their playing income as possible.
Sidebar: I was 90% ready to make reason five to be that a star player defecting for San Antonio aloways happens in the “My League” mode in 2k. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen LeBron, Kobe, CP3, or whomever join up with the Spurs. Wrong company, but if it’s in the game it’s in the game!
5. Marketing Opportunities Abound
Kevin Durant himself is proof positive that a great player can be marketable in any market. As far as high society is concerned, Oklahoma City and San Antonio might as well be the same place. The NBA is a global league and each year players rake in dump trucks of money by selling pretty much anything you can think of. The great thing about winning in the NBA is that it guarantees exposure in the 24-hour sports news cycle. Kawhi Leonard has maybe said 1000 words in his five years in the NBA, but he’s a noteworthy player and a Jordan Brand endorser. In decades past, being in a small and less than glamorous market would’ve hurt earning potential but that’s no longer the case. All that a star player needs now is to be somewhat charismatic, play well and avoid controversy, and they can make all the monies no matter where they play.
That’s it! Five reasons why San Antonio should be, and I’m willing to bet, will be a great free agent destination for years to come.