After being released by the Memphis Grizzlies, Gorgui Dieng was one of the most sought-after buyout players on the market. According to reports, Dieng has decided to sign with the San Antonio Spurs. Though definitely a surprising outcome, the Spurs have to be happy with this turn of events.
Dieng is a 6-foot-11 center who brings a lot to the table and fits nicely as a LaMarcus Aldridge replacement. He’s a quality shot-blocker and rebounder on defense who also swipes steals at an impressively high rate. Offensively, the 31-year-old has an accurate jumper that extends to the three-point line. Dieng also has good touch near the basket and has above average court vision for his position.
For the season with the Grizzlies, Dieng averaged 7.9 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.8 steals and 0.6 blocks in only 16.9 minutes per game. He shot 51.9% from the field, 47.9% from three-point territory and 88.4% from the free throw line.
To make room for Dieng, the Spurs will release Marquese Chriss, the big man who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Golden State Warriors. Chriss is out for the season with a broken leg.
Why Gorgui Dieng Signing with the Spurs is Surprising
San Antonio’s interest in Dieng isn’t surprising. The native of Senegal is a high character player who’s a fit on the roster.
What’s surprising is that Dieng decided to sign with the Spurs. There were a number of teams after him in free agency, including the Toronto Raptors, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets. He had a chance to be a starter with the Raptors, Knicks and Heat. If he wanted to chase a ring, the Clippers, Sixers, Heat and Suns all had to be tempting destinations.
Why did Dieng decide to sign with the Spurs? That’s not clear yet. The Spurs could have possibly offered him the most money. After the Aldridge buyout, the Spurs had money to spend before reaching the luxury tax threshold. Until we hear details, it’s a possibility (albeit unlikely) that San Antonio gave Dieng a multi-year contract.
The most likely answer to that question is Dieng just liked the fit in the Alamo City. There’s a clear spot open for him as the backup center. Since he’s a totally different player than Jakob Poeltl and more ready to help a playoff contender than Drew Eubanks, the door is open for him to earn consistent minutes.
Moreover, since Dieng is known for his community involvement and being a beloved teammate, San Antonio’s culture and international-friendly reputation could have drawn him to town.
How Gorgui Dieng Helps the Spurs Going Forward
Dieng becomes the backup center on the Spurs right away. On a team starved for three-point shooting, his range will be a breath of fresh air. Dieng isn’t bashful about looking for his own shots, which should help a team that has had trouble scoring as of late.
While Poelt is very likely to remain the starter at center, Dieng could conceivably split time with him. In fact, factoring in Poeltl’s troubles at the free throw line, Dieng has a chance to be the center most often on the court to close out ballgames.
At 31, Dieng is young enough for the Spurs to look to re-sign this summer. If he ends up being a good fit behind Poeltl, there’s a strong possibility that San Antonio could look to sign him to a two- or three-year deal. At the very least, his addition helps fill the talent void Aldridge left behind at the center spot.