The San Antonio Spurs were eliminated from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Clippers in a thrilling Game 7 Saturday night that came down to a game-winning shot from Chris Paul.
The Spurs and Clippers were two of the best teams in the NBA this year — unfortunately, somebody had to go out in the first round.
While it’s an early elimination for defending champion Spurs, they’re set up perfectly to continue the unprecedented run of dominance that began in 1998.
With 10 players hitting free agency this summer, the Spurs have over $US30 million in cap space and the opportunity to rebuild the team.
Tim Duncan Duncan and Manu Ginobili, at 39 and 37, respectively, are free agents, and though they both could continue playing for a year or two, they could also retire.
If they do retire, the Spurs could rebuild around a younger core while trying use cap space to attract top free agents.
This begins with Kawhi Leonard, who has taken his game to the next level. Leonard won Defensive Player of the Year this year and Finals MVP in 2014. He’s a defensive menace at 23 years old and is beginning to take over on offence. The Spurs let him become a free agent this summer, but because he’s a restricted free agent, the Spurs can (and almost definitely) will match any offer he gets.
With Leonard, Parker, Tiago Splitter, and Boris Diaw still under contract, the Spurs would still have a core group of players, plus a ton of roster flexibility and the ability to go after big-name free agents. LaMarcus Aldridge is expected to explore his options this summer, and as a Texas native, his name has been linked to the Spurs. They could also target Marc Gasol, arguably the best center in the NBA, who would fit the Spurs’ offensive and defensive systems perfectly.
It’s a very uncertain offseason for the Spurs. They will likely have to settle the futures of Duncan and Ginobili before re-signing Leonard. After that, they can explore a number of different directions, potentially building around one of the best young players in the NBA, an experienced championship core, and another All-Star.
San Antonio has made the playoffs 18 years in a row, and they have somehow managed to set up a future where they can keep that streak alive.
NOW WATCH: How LeBron James spends his money
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.