Victor Wembanyama and Spurs are a sleeping giant: How San Antonio can build around rising star in 2024 offseason

The Spurs were not a great team in the first year of the Victor Wembanyama era, finishing with only 22 wins and a second-to-last-place finish in the Western Conference.

That losing won’t last much longer — the superstar rookie is simply too good to allow that to continue. 

San Antonio will get immediately better first and foremost by extending Wemby’s minutes from a paltry 29.7 per game in his first season. He will also naturally improve with experience. This is the worst he’s going to be in his career, which is a terrifying thought for the rest of the league. Even as a 20-year-old rookie, the Spurs were 7.5 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor. 

Wemby can’t do it alone, though. San Antonio needs a total roster revamp. He inherited a 22-win team that lost the handful of veterans (Jakob Poeltl, Josh Richardson, Keita Bates-Diop, Doug McDermott) who were actually capable of playing winning basketball.

The Spurs were the youngest team in the league this season, playing a ton of guys who will no longer be in the league in a few years. Adding even a handful of cheap veteran role players will boost their wins significantly. 

They have a ton of flexibility in what they can do this offseason, thanks to shrewd trades that they have made over the years to acquire five surplus first-round picks, three first-round pick swaps, 14 (!!!) surplus second-round picks and all of their own picks through 2030. That is a Wemby-sized war chest of assets for future deals. 

If that weren’t enough to work with, the Spurs also are one of only six teams with significant cap space to go out and sign free agents this summer. They are projected to have $25.4 million to work with, per Keith Smith of Spotrac

No other team is positioned as well as San Antonio to make a quick leap. It has a unique combination of a generational talent that everyone wants to play with, a massive amount of trade assets, cap space to sign players and a franchise that players around the league have respect for.

Don’t let the bad record fool you — the Spurs are a sleeping giant.

MORE: Nikola Jokic vs. Victor Wembanyama is already the best show in the NBA

Victor Wembanyama and Nikola Jokic

Key storyline: Do the Spurs make a big trade for a point guard? 

Tre Jones did an admirable job as a point guard — once the Spurs finally started playing him, of course. He’s a good decision-maker and a try-hard defender, but his 6-1 size and lack of shooting project him as more of a high-level backup. They need a dynamic point guard. Could they make a trade for one?

It’s no secret that the Hawks are looking to break up their roster. Trae Young is going to be associated with the Spurs for as long as that’s true. Why? He is the perfect fit alongside Wembanyama. He’s one of the best lob passers in the league, his defensive limitations could theoretically be hidden alongside a DPOY-level big man and he would single-handedly fix San Antonio’s offense

Darius Garland is another option that makes a ton of sense. The Cavs were a terrific team, but the fit between Garland and Donovan Mitchell still isn’t quite as good as one would like. With owner Dan Gilbert committed to extending Mitchell, Garland could be gettable. 

Garland’s shooting and playmaking would also pair very nicely with Wembanyama. His age (24) makes him a sensible target, and he was an All-Star in 2022 before Mitchell got to Cleveland. He could return to that form in a bigger role in San Antonio.  

If the Spurs don’t trade for an All-Star caliber point guard, they could sign some stopgaps in free agency. Would a Markelle Fultz flyer make sense? Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry or Tre’s older brother, Tyus Jones, are also out there. 

MORE: Darius Garland teaming up with Victor Wembanyama is a trade I want to see

Spurs upcoming free agents

The Spurs have some minor free-agent decisions to make. If they choose to bring any of these four players back, it shouldn’t cost them much:

Unrestricted Restricted
Cedi Osman Sandro Mamukelashvili
  Dominick Barlow
  David Duke Jr.

Cedi Osman has given the Spurs decent minutes and hit a good percentage of his 3s. The team’s restricted free agents have not been regular rotation players. 

MORE: TSN’s Steph Noh shares his expert All-NBA picks

Spurs future salaries, roster

The Spurs have nine guaranteed salaries on their roster for next year. They will likely move on from Devonte’ Graham and will have to decide on bringing back Julian Champagnie and Charles Bassey. 

Player 2024-25 2025-26 2026-27
Devin Vassell $29,347,826 $27,000,000 $27,000,000
Keldon Johnson $19,000,000 $17,500,000 $17,500,000
Zach Collins $16,741,200 $18,080,496 UFA
Victor Wembanyama $12,768,960 $13,376,880 (TO) $16,868,246 (TO)
Tre Jones $9,104,167 UFA
Jeremy Sochan $5,570,000 $7,096,231 (TO) RFA
Malaki Branham $3,217,920 $4,962,033 (TO) RFA
Blake Wesley $2,624,280 $4,726,328 (TO) RFA
Sidy Cissoko $1,891,857 $2,221,677 (NG) RFA
Devonte’ Graham $12,650,000 (NG) UFA
Julian Champagnie $3,000,000 (NG) $3,000,000 $3,000,000 (TO)
Charles Bassey $2,500,000 (NG) $2,500,000 (NG) UFA

PO = Player option

TO = Team option

NG = Non-guaranteed

UFA = Unrestricted free agent

RFA = Restricted free agent

Spurs cap space

The Spurs have the aforementioned $25 million to spend in free agency, along with various cap exceptions. Devin Vassell is a good starting shooting guard. They need to upgrade at every other position. 

There aren’t a ton of splashy free agents that make sense for San Antonio. It could easily attach picks to open up even more cap space and go after a big name like Paul George, but the age doesn’t line up. DeMar DeRozan could bolster its offense again. Would there be interest in a fading Klay Thompson? 

More likely, the Spurs will target more middle-tier veteran role players, of which there are a few. Tobias Harris, Gordon Hayward, Buddy Hield, Bruce Brown Jr., Malik Monk, De’Anthony Melton, Miles Bridges, Caleb Martin and Dario Saric are some potential names to look at. 

The Spurs could also throw a big offer sheet at a younger player coming off his rookie deal, although there aren’t many options out there. Patrick Williams, the oft-injured forward with great size and 3-and-D potential, could be an option. Saddiq Bey and Precious Achiuwa are also out there. 

San Antonio’s cap space also puts it in an interesting position where it is one of the few that can make uneven salary trades. Teams looking to offload veteran contracts (hello, Zach LaVine) can make creative trades with the Spurs.

Spurs 2024 NBA Draft picks

The Spurs have their own pick, slated to be No. 3, the Raptors pick if it falls outside the top six and two second-round picks projected at 33 and 46. 

There are some decent guards in this draft class. In his pre-March Madness Mock Draft, TSN’s Kyle Irving had the Spurs selecting Nikola Topic with the No. 3 pick along with Rob Dillingham with the No. 7 pick. Either of those players could give the team some much-needed playmaking. 

In his post-March Madness Mock Draft, Irving had the Spurs taking Dalton Knecht at No. 4.

This will likely be the last time the Spurs draft at the top of the lottery unless one of their traded picks or swaps gets them there. They’re going to be a good team sooner rather than later. They’re preaching patience, but they have too many assets at their disposal to stay near the bottom for very long. 

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