For the second year in a row, the San Antonio Spurs are looking to be major players in the NBA offseason, hoping to sign some of the league's top free agents.
The Spurs have a lot of money to spend and can easily make moves to offer a max contract and more money to coveted players... but so can just about everyone else in the NBA as players and franchises have been gearing up for this big money offseason, as well as next year's too.
So what are the chances that the Spurs can actually sign some of the top NBA free agents? Let's take a look:
1. Kevin Durant
Durant is the most highly coveted free agent, surpassing LaMarcus Aldridge last year because better teams have the money to spend, including the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors, who faced each other in this past season's Western Conference Finals.
Durant will be meeting with the Spurs this weekend, and we've previously listed what San Antonio can offer him that no one else can, but the Spurs are still a longshot to sign the former Texas Longhorn.
For one, the Thunder can offer Durant more money because they were the last team he played for. They can also offer him more money in a max deal when Durant likely signs a one-year contract with a player option for the second year, opts out, and then signs a max contract again.
Spurs Chances: Highly Unlikely.
The Thunder were one win from the NBA Finals, nearly beating the Warriors and already eliminated the Spurs in six games. Plus, Durant likes playing with Russell Westbrook, who will be a free agent at the end of next year and the two might want to stick around OKC together.
2. Pau Gasol
The Spurs say they want to get younger and faster, but Pau Gasol is the exception. At 35 years old, he's one of the best centers available on the market. He's won championships, can be a defensive anchor in the paint, and is still agile and fast enough to carry any offense for short stretches.
Gasol nearly signed with the Spurs last season, but the Chicago Bulls were able to offer him a little bit more money. Now, Gasol might have admitted that it was a mistake because he's been dropping hints about opting out and leaving since halfway through the season.
He also has said that he has a huge respect for Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich and seeing that the Spurs have a need for him at the position and that he could win another championship in a city friendly to Spanish speakers, San Antonio couldn't be a better fit.
Spurs Chances: Very Likely.
It would be a surprise if Gasol weren't playing for the Spurs next season. San Antonio has made it a priority, are ahead of the Warriors in terms of establishing a relationship with him, and can offer him as much money as anyone else.
3. Mike Conley
The Spurs are looking to get younger and they're looking for a true point guard to add to their rotation. Mike Conley would fit that role perfectly.
But reportedly, while the Spurs have the money and the championships, they don't have a spot for him in the starting rotation. As great as Conley is on the court, he wants a spot in a starting lineup wherever he goes.
Spurs Chances: No way, Jose.
Early reports of San Antonio's interest in Conley have been retconned down. The Spurs have Tony Parker under contract for two more years, and Conley wants a starting spot. Yes, the two would make a great combination in theory, but neither side wants to make it happen bad enough.
4. Dwyane Wade
As we've previously covered, Wade's best days are behind him and, although he was a little better this past season, he's one injury away from his career being over.
He'd be a great addition to the San Antonio bench, and has even reached out to the Spurs to see if there's any interest from the Alamo City in bringing him in. But, according to a report, he's just doing that for leverage.
Spurs Chances: Unlikely
The only way the Spurs would be able to sign Wade is if Miami declined to pay him more than he's worth, which is what they've been doing for years, including last season. If, for some reason, the Heat decide that they don't want to pay way more than market value to keep the face of the franchise around, the Spurs could swoop in and make him a great deal for a shot at another title.
5. Al Horford
Al Horford is the league's biggest wild card, mostly because it's unlikely that the Atlanta Hawks will resign him. They have the money and can offer him more than anyone else, but they were open about trading him away before this past season's deadline and the team has been swept out of the playoffs each of the past two years.
Horford reminds me a lot of Pau Gasol after a few years with the Memphis Grizzlies. He was a very good player, but wasn't good enough to be the best player on a championship contender. Gasol's success came as a key player helping contenders win championships by getting them over the hump.
Horford could absolutely do that for the Spurs in a mutually beneficial agreement that would mask his deficiencies and allow him to thrive.
Spurs Chances: 50-50
The Spurs were a potential trade partner with the Hawks before the deadline to acquire Horford, but we'll never know how close either side was to pulling the trigger on a deal. The Spurs will have to make trades to create room to sign any player to a max contract, but Horford would definitely be worth the moves and the risk.
6. Ian Mahinmi
Spurs fans remember Mahinmi as San Antonio plucked him from obscurity to be a key contributor on several of their playoff runs. Mahinmi is back on the market this offseason and the Spurs are among his suitors.
Advanced statistics show that Mahinmi had his best season ever as a pro, vastly improving on both sides of the floor for a Pacers team that desperately needed him to. Being familiar with the Spurs system, players, and coaches make him uniquely qualified to move back to San Antonio and be the young force in the paint that the Spurs need.
Chances: Roll of the dice
The only way Mahinmi signs with the Spurs is if San Antonio loses out on the Pau Gasol sweepstakes. Even though Gasol is older, he's a better player and won't command a deal longer than two years, giving them cap flexibility going forward. But if Gasol doesn't sign, Mahinmi would be a great grab for the Spurs to continue to develop into a long-term contributor. They just won't get both of them.