The San Antonio Spurs -- the NBA's most stable franchise -- are at a crossroads like we've never seen

  • The San Antonio Spurs are facing an offseason full of big questions that make their future uncertain.
  • The most significant question is whether they can mend their relationship with Kawhi Leonard and keep him or be forced to trade him if he wants out.
  • Several big-name players, from Manu Ginobili to Tony Parker to Danny Green, are also facing retirement or free agency and could shake up the Spurs’ core.

The San Antonio Spurs season came to an end on Tuesday when the Golden State Warriors eliminated them from the NBA playoffs, winning the series 4-1.

While the Spurs put up an admirable fight against the league’s reigning champions, the loss only opened the door to a plethora of questions that put the NBA’s most stable franchise at an unusual crossroads.

All questions begin with the future of Kawhi Leonard. Leonard missed all but nine games this season while rehabbing from a quadriceps injury and was not with the team for the playoffs, rehabbing with his advisors and doctors in New York. The handling of Leonard’s injury has reportedly caused a divide between the Spurs and their star player.

What happens next is entirely unclear. ESPN’s Michael C. Wright reported that an offseason meeting with Leonard is the Spurs’ top priority, in hopes of mending the relationship.

At the core of the issue is that Leonard will be in a contract year next season. He’s eligible for a five-year, $US219 million “supermax” contract with the Spurs, but questions remain about whether the Spurs would want to extend that deal to a player who may not be healthy and may not want to be there. Additionally, there are questions about Leonard’s willingness to accept the deal – that is, if he wants out of San Antonio – though turning down such an offer would be unprecedented in the NBA.

If the Spurs can’t mend the relationship with Leonard – if it does indeed need mending – then they may be the latest team forced into dealing an unhappy star player. Leonard would typically fetch a high return on the trade market, but the Spurs may struggle to get a great package if the rest of the league knows Leonard wants out.

Leonard’s future is just one of several uncertainties the Spurs face. Manu Ginobili may have played his final game on Tuesday. The 40-year-old guard has pondered retirement two years in a row, only to return after an offseason of weighing his future. Ginobili said on Tuesday that there’s no timeline on his decision and he may not make up his mind until July.

Likewise, another fixture of the Spurs, Tony Parker, may be gone this offseason. Parker is a free agent, and at 35, saw his place in the starting lineup get taken by second-year guard Dejounte Murray. With Patty Mills due roughly $US37 million over the next three years, the Spurs may opt to let Parker walk in free agency unless he’s willing to return at a discount.

Likewise, 3-and-D wing Danny Green has a player option he may decline to hit free agency. Rudy Gay, a high-scoring forward who struggled to gain much momentum this season because of injuries, also has a player option. Fourth-year forward Kyle Anderson, who was third on the team in total minutes this year, is a free agent.

The Spurs may be looking at a high amount of turnover, which is unusual for a team that has chugged along so consistently for two decades.

Of course, the alternative is that all of it continues – the Spurs mend their relationship with Leonard, Ginobili, and Parker stay with the Spurs, and they find role players to plug in around their main core. They would enter next season as another possible contender and an almost-certain playoff team.

For the first time in years, the Spurs will be a must-watch team in the NBA offseason as they navigate an unclear path.

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