Spurs buyout season: Swiiiiiiiiing and a miss
News broke Friday morning that Caron Butler intends to sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder once he clears waivers, and with that, the Spurs have effectively missed out on signing the two prized assets of the 2014 buyout season.
It’s that magical time of year where contending teams stand by, waiting for the scraps to fall off the tables of their lottery-bound competition in an effort to fill voids in their rotations. This year, that crop of castaways was led by Butler and Danny Granger, neither of whom the Spurs were able to wrangle.
San Antonio reportedly made a very persuasive pitch to Granger during the small forward’s telephone conversation with Gregg Popovich. Pop pitched a Robert Horry-type role to the veteran, where he would’ve primarily played a version of the kind of stretch ‘four’ the Spurs could use. And while Granger did show interest, it was never enough to jump the Los Angeles Clippers as his leader in the clubhouse.
So he’ll likely be a rental through the summertime in Los Angeles — where he has a house — and provide depth at the forward position for the Clippers’ run through the postseason. That leaves names like Antawn Jamison, Metta World Peace, Dahntay Jones, Ivan Johnson and others (Jimmer Fredette!) still on the market. (Note: MWP will not appear in a Spurs uniform.)
Also something to remember: Josh Howard is playing in Austin with the Toros. San Antonio has given no indication it plans on signing the veteran small forward, and Howard’s physical condition has been on the downslide for years now. So it’d be a surprise if the Spurs brought him on board, especially given his mediocre play at the D-League level. I wouldn’t count on it, but you never know.
While the Spurs certainly would’ve liked to land Granger or Butler to provide some depth at the small forward position, there wasn’t going to be a ton of available playing time, anyway. That’s one of the reasons each decided to go elsewhere: better opportunity. They’ll have more prominent roles with the teams they chose than they would have had in San Antonio. The idea of Granger in an Horry role was an intriguing one, though, I’ve got to say.
Still, the fact of the matter is, given the depth San Antonio possesses, impact from either player could’ve been nothing more than negligible. But we’ll never know. There’s still time to shore up the backup small forward position, too. San Antonio has until March 23 to sign any other recently bought-out NBA player, and they’ve got an unlimited amount of time to acquire the services of anyone who hasn’t played in the league this season.
You would expect the Spurs will switch gears and take their time to assess the future of this roster as the playoffs approach, especially now that Granger and Butler are off the market. Either way, so long as Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green don’t get injured at some point, they’re in pretty good shape as presently constituted. This swing-and-a-miss is likely nothing but a blip.