In what must be a sign that the end of days are coming, the San Antonio Spurs are not a good basketball team and don't have a clear path to get better. Right now they sit at 10-15, good for 11th in the Western Conference. They have some exciting young talent like Dejonte Murray and Derrick White, but nothing franchise-changing. They're on the hook to pay LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan over $100 million combined over the next two seasons.
Stuck in no-man's land with money tied up in veterans who don't fit the current NBA landscape, things look dire for the Spurs. On ESPN's Woj and Lowe Show, Adrian Wojnarowski said the rebuild is coming for San Antonio (1:40 mark):
It's a hard reality to comprehend, given the Spurs have been, at the very least, a playoff team for this entire century. But all signs point to what we believed may be the unthinkable until Kawhi Leonard's graceless exit from San Antonio almost two years ago.
If the Spurs do pivot towards the future this season, they'll be hard-pressed to get enough back to make this a short rebuild. They've struck gold in the middle and later rounds of the draft before, but even Leonard needed three years before getting even close to the version of him we all recognize as one of the NBA's very best players.
They don't own any draft picks other than their own. Aldridge and DeRozan both have a certain amount of value, but the money they're making isn't anywhere equal to their production, and it'll be tough for Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford to land a decent return. Both are best suited for sixth-man roles at this point, but make starting-level money. DeRozan is averaging 21 points per game, while Aldridge is at 18. Neither fit the pace-and-space style of play that the best teams in the league deploy.
Right now, it seems like the best they could hope for is some fringe rotation guys and maybe a first-round pick if a borderline playoff contender (the Magic stand out as the only real possibility) gets desperate to make a push near the trade deadline. But even if they have to give those two away for basically nothing, the Spurs' best chance to execute a rebuild and get back to being competitive before Popovich retires sometime in the next three years is to dump Aldridge and DeRozan immediately.
If they manage to get rid of them before the deadline, they can let the likes of Murray and White run the show. Lonnie Walker IV has shown flashes but tends to get glued to the bench in an effort to win games. Let those guys develop, and hopefully, the Spurs are bad enough to land a top-five pick. This isn't a strong draft by any means, but it's a far weaker free agent class. Without any other draft picks, San Antonio has to nail their next two drafts, and the higher the pick is, the greater chance they have of turning the ship around quickly.
The fact that we're even having this discussion is a bit surreal. But after 20 years, the rebuild has finally arrived. It'll be fascinating to see what San Antonio does next.