On Thursday night, the San Antonio Spurs will be front and center at the 2023 NBA Draft. The NBA has told the Spurs that they can’t make any statements regarding who they will pick before they actually make the selection — even though everyone in the world knows what San Antonio is going to do. For that reason, it’ll be a relief for the franchise once the selection is made.
1) Nothing has changed with regard to the Spurs selecting Victor Wembanyama with the first pick. In fact, I’m told that the Spurs never got to the point of having to reject trade offers for Wembanyama because they refused to even discuss the possibility of trading him.
2) According to a source associated with Metropolitans 92, Wembanyama’s French team, the 7-foot-5 center recently had a meeting with the Spurs to discuss his vision for how he wants his first year in the NBA to play out. The most notable request from Wembanyama was that he wants to play in every possible game. The source told me the Spurs responded by telling Wembanyama that the franchise agrees with his vision and will do everything they can to make that happen.
Shortly after San Antonio won the lottery, I wrote that I thought the Spurs should use his rookie season to slowly but surely build his endurance. I envisioned the Spurs sitting Wembanyama in back-to-back situations when it made sense to try to keep him healthy. However, it sounds like Wembanyama isn’t interested in a slow approach.
The source explained that Wembanyama was very proud of the fact he didn’t miss a game this season. If he wants to keep his ironman streak alive in his rookie season, it sounds like the Spurs won’t get in his way.
3) I previously wrote that the Spurs were planning for Wembanyama not to play in summer league in order for him to rest prior to joining the French national team in August. However, the Mets source said that Wembanyama told the Spurs in the recent meeting that he wants to participate in summer league. He didn’t know specifics but he says Wembanyama wants to be involved.
Does that mean Wembanyama will practice with the team and play in a game or two? Does that mean he will play in all the games? Does that mean he’ll just be hanging around the summer league team? As of right now, it’s unclear. From what I can gather, it sounds like the Spurs will allow Wembanyama to decide.
Most players in Wembanyama’s positions would gladly sit out summer league in order to take a few weeks to rest. But, as we’re quickly learning, Wembanyama isn’t most players.
4) Wembanyama famously has a group of trainers he uses to put himself in a position to stay as injury-free as possible. I’m told the Spurs are open to the idea of officially hiring a few of his trainers. Discussions with those trainers will reportedly begin after Wembanyama is drafted by the Spurs on Thursday night.
5) A source close to the Spurs says the front office has already reached out and spoken to officials with the French national team. In their conversations, the Spurs are said to have congratulated the French national team for having a generational talent on their side and said that they look forward to Wembanyama competing for France. Both sides vowed to keep the lines of communication open.
6) Head coach Gregg Popovich will make his first public remarks about Wembanyama minutes after the Frenchman is drafted. It’s expected that Pop will at least insinuate that he will coach the team next season.
I’ve been told that Pop hasn’t yet signed a new contract but when he does, the terms of the deal are expected to be what we previously reported: a three-year contract worth approximately $14 million per season with opt outs after the first and second seasons.
7) If Wembanyama plays in summer league, a Spurs source says he will be joined by Jeremy Sochan on the team. Sochan missed summer league last year after he contracted COVID-19. Sochan will be joined by fellow 2022 first round picks Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley.
8) Multiple league sources tell me the Spurs continue to try to acquire a second first round draft pick. Specifically, I’ve been told the Spurs have offered up future first round picks in an attempt to move into the lottery.
If the Spurs do make a trade, the two names I continue to hear most often are Anthony Black and Kobe Bufkin. However, if Bilal Coulibaly begins to slide in the draft, there’s talk that the Spurs could look to trade up and nab Wembanyama’s teammate.
9) No league source I’ve spoken to has heard of the Spurs offering trades involving either Keldon Johnson or Devin Vassell. That’s noteworthy because pundits have speculated that Johnson or Vassell could be moved during the draft — but I’ve found no evidence that’s the case.
10) An interesting tidbit: A source employed by Overtime Elite told me he was very disappointed that the Spurs got the No. 1 pick because he was convinced that the Spurs were the one team that was all but guaranteed to pick one of the Thompson twins. Even if San Antonio would have gotten the second pick, he believes the Spurs would have picked Amen Thompson at that spot. He also believes the Spurs are very high on Ausar Thompson.
11) It’s easy to forget the Spurs have two second round picks in this draft: the 33rd and 44th overall selections. Talk persists that the Spurs are open to trading either or both of the picks. Packaging both picks along with other draft capital to move up in the draft is a very real possibility.
If the Spurs keep both picks, scouts I’ve talked to speculate that the Spurs will draft the best player available at 33 and then use the 44th pick on a player willing to sign a two-way contract. The new collective bargaining agreement added a third two-way contract roster spot, so San Antonio could use the draft to fill that vacancy.
12) We previously reported that a scout for a Western Conference team believes that the Spurs will attempt to try to sign Fred VanVleet or Chris Paul. I asked a Spurs source about that possibility and he basically shot it down.
“The plan is to avoid big, costly mistakes,” he explained, “and to slowly build this thing out. See what you have first, see what you need, see what can be grown organically and go from there.”
13) Videos have circulated on social media recently showing former Spurs lottery pick Joshua Primo playing basketball once again. Would the Spurs consider bringing back Primo?
“No,” a Spurs source told me. “That page has been turned.”