The Draft & Stash Free Agency


A thought occurred to me while I was going over the Nando De Colo news in my head. It’s okay, I survived. I know there’s a part of the Spurs fan population that doesn’t like the draft-and-stash approach the Spurs take to their selections, especially those later in the draft. Some people want the Spurs to select the best available player who can contribute immediately. No waiting two or three seasons while they develop in Europe. TIM DUNCAN NEEDS HELP NOW, DAMMIT.

I can see this point of view. While I largely disagree with it, I understand where those people are coming from. But what the Spurs have done with the year-after-year, draft-and-stash approach is create their own version of free agency, which no other team in the NBA can play except them.

San Antonio is not a free agent destination. We’ve been over this before. In the past, free agents came to San Antonio because of Tim Duncan and the chance to win a championship. But even when that formula worked, it never brought in marquee free agents, it simply allowed the Spurs to keep their pieces and bring in veterans looking for a ring. Now the draw is the Spurs franchise, system and Gregg Popovich. We’re not far enough along at this point to see how much pull those three things have. Though judging by last offseason’s swings and misses (Caron Butler, Josh Howard), we’re not off to a great start.

With the several years of draft-and-stash in the rearview, the Spurs have created their own free agency period where the Spurs’ only competition is the European clubs who may be able to offer a little more money and playing time than San Antonio. Those franchises can’t offer the chance at glory in the NBA, though. The Spurs are the only team who can offer that. By controlling the rights of these players, the Spurs can sign them to a contract or they can go back abroad to play.

Adam Hanga, Davis Bertans and Nando De Colo have all been in San Antonio recently to check up with Spurs staff. San Antonio can bring these guys in and run them through drills, physical tests and see how they’re developing. If San Antonio wants to offer any of these players a contract, it can. The Spurs can fill holes in the roster (sadly, no defensive bigs being stashed away currently) with those guys or promote someone who’s simply NBA ready, assuming they can agree to terms. If they can’t, he goes back to Europe without real threat of him playing for another NBA team anytime soon.

By playing this game, the Spurs also prevent themselves from overpaying. Landry Fields agreed to a deal with the Raptors today for $20 million over three years. LANDRY FIELDS! By being the only NBA team who can offer De Colo and company NBA contracts, the Spurs can set the market for those players and leave it at that. The Spurs can’t afford to get in a bidding war with anybody, and this is a good way around.

Considering the Spurs’ limited options in bringing in players every year due to draft position, salary cap constraints and free agency appeal, they’ve created (intentionally or not) a market to bring in new players which addresses many of the limitations they face.

  • Titletown99030507d

    How many seasons did it take Manu to be playing at the level we had been accustomed to seeing? Speaking high level? 2, 3 seasons?

  • smh

    To Kev

    6-10 million don’t get you a star center. From 6 to 10 is a very wide range by the way. 6 million get you Darko (I sense you love that guy). 8 million get you Omer Asik, Kendrick Perkins or Brendan Haywood. 10 million get you a wildly underpaid Al Horford.

    Then, DeAndre Jordan gets 12 a year, like Bogut (up to 14 next year). Noah gets 13.5 million, as does Nene. Tyson Chandler gets 14.5, like Marc Gasol. Hibbert has just been extended a max 58 million/4year offer sheet. Greg Monroe will get the max too when he’s eligible. JaVale probably won’t get the max but it will be a good payday nevertheless. Even what you dismiss as just a “servicable” center is a rare and coveted commodity. And Marc Gasol is a 2012 NBA All-Star.

    Alll the while, Tiago Splitter makes 4 million in the final year of a 3 year-10 million contract. Tiago may often sulk in Pop’s doghouse because of missed rotations in elimination games, but then again he only makes 3.5 a year : he’s a real bargain. It’s not like the draft-and-stash strategy made the Spurs overpay him for his ACB accolades.

    I certainly didn’t explain my comparisons between players well. In fact I was as much comparing players as I was thinking about how you can try and build a full roster -Rubio, Wes Johnson, Beasley, Pekovic, Darko, Randolph are TimberWolves, and David Kahn is their incredible GM- and how “American athleticism” is kind of an odd point to focus on. Rubio and Pekovic are draft and stash players. Rubio has quick feet and long arms. Pekovic is very, very strong. Beasley is an All-American ball-hog. He’s funny though. Wes Johnson is a (bad) athletic 4th overall pick. But at least he always smile.
    Then I threw in Batum and Pietrus because they’re athletic wings that happen to not be American and compare favorably to Wes Johnson. Yes, even an injured Pietrus is better than wes Johnson, and comes cheaper.
    Mahinmi, Turiaf and Seraphin are role players that operate exclusively in the paint. Not great talents, but not “finesse” players either, rather getting paid to bang down low, be it mostly in practice lol.

    And “athleticism” is a vague word. There’s strength (lower-body or upper-body?), quickness, agility, speed, vertical jump, second jump, coordination, balance… What do you mean by “American athleticism”? You mean Serge Ibaka, amiright?

    Anyway, I love Vlade Divac. Especially that interior presence he made felt by flopping all around, a la Luis Scola (hey, remember him? A Spurs draft-and-stash-and-trade!) And his finesse passing. Even a better passer than the Gasol brothers, true. The fact is I can appreciate angles, backdoor cuts and passing, taking charges, footwork, pump fakes, reading the defense… You can score and defend on sheer athleticism, but “finesse” and smarts can get it done too, sometimes. I heard Tim Duncan doesn’t jump very high and is not that strong anymore, but f***, he’s good, as DeMarcus Cousins said.

    I recall an article where, when asked, Pop addressed the Spurs’ relative lack of athleticism. iirc he said that the Spurs obviously would like to be more athetic. But that while atheticism is available (remember Gerald Green? or James White?), athleticism with some other above-average skill is rare and therefore very expensive.

  • Andrew A. McNeill

    Is he really? I had no idea.

  • Tyler

    No $ to go after Kaman.

  • Titletown99030507d

    We don’t know if Greens and Mills qualifying offers are going to stick and how much Duncan is going to take.

  • Tyler


    For some odd reason that I can’t explain, fans on here are under the impression that picking foreign players that don’t come over for a few years (or at all) has somehow prevented the organization from picking up the necessary talent (either through the draft or FA) which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

    I wish folks would realize that the D&S has given the Spurs more options and flexibility, not less.

  • Bry

    Excellent points, Daniel T


    It’s got to be commended by the Spurs to stay relevant and productive over the last 5 years. There has been some hopeful and good players the Spurs have signed in that time frame to help the team be competitive for a title. The D&S is not a blemish per say as some have mentioned. But it has not provided the results of acquiring a “game changer” as some might have hoped with the late round picks since the Spurs drafted Ginobili. AND those that would have been or proven to have been a “game changing” type of player that the Spurs have drafted since Ginobili have not remained on the team or never even played for the team. So…some of the reasoning to “why” the Spurs have implemented this method are in question by some of it’s fans.

    Granted…and I’ve so much conceded that it is a highly unlikely expectation that the Spurs find another Ginobili…or get a late round draft pick that makes such an impact as being another diamond in the rough…but the continuance in the procedure when it has not produced anything other than players that don’t play for the team or don’t have the talent to be relevant is why not take a chance on somebody else than these euro players who are not confined to a euro contract over a period of several years to which the Spurs could work with directly and immediately instead of waiting on something that may never produce?

    Unless they are SO exceptional in the top Euro league process they “may” be good in the nba would it be worth the pick. So far the Spurs stand at one and a half of all the euros they’ve drafted making a positive impact for this team. I would think the odds would be just the same or maybe even better if they stayed at home with their picks over the last 5 years.

    But that’s speculation just as it’s speculation it’s been a good thing.

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