It’s no secret that the San Antonio Spurs lack depth at the small forward position. Richard Jefferson, at this point, is the clear starter at the 3. But behind him there is a significant drop-off.
Alonzo Gee could be Jefferson’s backup this year. He’s technically listed as a shooting guard, but he has the build and athleticism to play the 3. I have my doubts, though, that Gee is ready for a role in the Spurs’ rotation this season.
The main two things the Spurs will look for from a backup small forward are defense and 3-point shooting, and slightly lower on the list of demands is defensive rebounding. Specifically, the Spurs are on the lookout for a defender who can cover the big, strong perimeter players the NBA has to offer, like Ron Artest and LeBron James. And hit the spot-up corner 3. It’d be nice to see someone else do that this season besides George Hill.
Barring an outstanding performance in training camp from Gee, the Spurs will be looking to bring someone in for cheap to backup Jefferson. They don’t really have a choice, really. All San Antonio has to offer is the Bi-annual exception (worth about $2.08 million this season), what’s left of the Mid-level exception from the Tiago Splitter signing, and the veteran’s minimum.
(Note: in this post, I’m not looking at options for trading for a small forward. This is strictly discussing who’s available on the free agent market and overseas.)
I have to warn you, this list is much less sexy than Tim’s list from the beginning of free agency. Blame it on the players who already signed. So who’s available, in no particular order:
Keith Bogans – Yes, he’s still out there. No, I hope he isn’t re-signed.
Bobby Simmons – Averaged 5.3 points per game in 23 appearances last year for the New Jersey Nets. He’s a 40% shooter from behind the three-point line in his career.
Jawad Williams – An underrated free agent, in my opinion. At 6’9″ he has the size and athleticism to play both forward positions. He averaged 4.1 ppg and 1.5 rebounds per game in 54 appearances for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. Williams is only a 32% 3-point shooter for his career, though. He’s a restricted free agent, so any offer the Spurs potentially made to Williams could be matched by the Cavs.
Marcus Landry – He’s the younger brother of former Rocket, and current Sacramento King, Carl Landry, but that’s about as much as I know about him. He’s got the size (6’7″ 230 lbs.) to play small forward, but he’s 32% 3-point shooter in two years of extremely limited NBA action. At the Orlando Summer League this year, he shot 23%. But then was a 46% 3-point shooter at the Las Vegas Summer League. So there’s that.
Rodney Carney – He’s 6’7″ and he’s got a 6’10″ wingspan. On top of that, he can jump really, really high. He’s got the potential to be a harassing defender, but he’s been a pretty average 3-point shooter (33%) in his four years in the league. He could also be a better rebounder for all his physical gifts.
Sasha Pavlovic – 6’7″, 35% 3-point shooter, has a pulse. All solid things, but nothing great.
Jarvis Hayes – He has an awesome name. Hayes also has good size at 6’8″ and 228 lbs. He’s been a 36% career 3-point shooter for his career, though he only shot 34% last season with the New Jersey Nets.
Bostjan Nachbar – Remember him? Yes, the Boston Snackbar has been overseas for the last two seasons. But as a 6’9″ small forward who shoots 38% from the 3-point line in his NBA career, he could play 10-15 minutes if needed.
Bobby Jones – A name several of the commenters have thrown around on a few posts. Apparently drafted in 1974, 10 years before he was born, by the Houston Rockets, Jones has yet to stick in the NBA. Jones actually played in three games for the Spurs in the 2007-08 season. In Italy last season, Jones shot 38% from the 3-point line.
Tracy McGrady – He’s still out there, just waiting to be snatched up. Should the Spurs be the ones to make a move? No, probably not. McGrady’s more fragile than Duncan’s knee in May at this point.
Anyone in particular out there that the fans want to see on the Spurs roster this season? Any under-the-radar guys that I missed?