The Spurs have been a model of continuity and organic franchise-building in the NBA, but for many years, that’s been a necessity. San Antonio is a smaller market, without revenues big enough to shoulder onerous luxury tax burdens or pay superstar contracts. But with the explosion in the salary cap from the NBA’s new TV deal, the Spurs were able to spend on equal footing with the other teams, and landed an unprecedented free agency victory when they scored LaMarcus Aldridge last season. This season, they’re setting their sights even higher with Kevin Durant, but apparently their ambitions don’t stop there:
That’s an intriguing match for a number of reasons, but Tony Parker isn’t going anywhere until 2018, and he’s 33. He may seem like he’s eternally connected to Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, either of whom might retire this summer, but he’s a half-decade younger. Patty Mills is signed for another season, too. And if Conley and Durant are supposed to come together, Mills might have to be traded to make room on both the bench and the salary cap.
Of course, two years ago, all of these would be ludicrous pipe dreams, and it’s still a wish list. Every step the Thunder take toward an NBA title makes it less likely Kevin Durant will leave at all. Conley would still make for a crowded backcourt as the Spurs stand now, but he’s already the kind of unassuming, defense-first, pass-second player Gregg Popovich would love. He’d be an excellent distributor to put Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge in good scoring positions, even if he’s not the aggressive driver Parker was at his prime.
Mills is a valuable player, too, and a better outside shooter than Conley, but it could very well be worth it to deal him to make room for Conley. He could bring back some real value, too. But if the Spurs do land Conley, is that the end of Tony Parker as a starter? It might be, and that might not necessarily be a bad thing.