Basketball fans including Spurs diehards have been saying that the Spurs ain’t a free agent destination. In recent memory, it can be considered that LaMarcus Aldridge was the best talent the Spurs ever acquired. Aldridge has been the leader of the team in the past two years. It has been the impression that Spurs don’t spend big money in free agency. But history has shown they have the reputation being an expert in knowing who to add in their roster without having a huge dent in their salary cap. PATFO has always had that knack of getting the players who can fit the Spurs system and culture and be successful with it. Below are some of those players. Feel free to comment if we missed a Spur who deserves to be on the list.
We all know Avery with that traffic-like voice when he had a speech. But Johnson has been the leader of the team who kept the morale of his teammates after an excruciating lost to the Houston Rockets in 1995. Johnson, as starting point guard in 1999, was like the extension of coach Pop inside the court. He was the one sunk that jump shot in Game Five of the Finals at the Madison Square Garden. He got cut twice in his career as a Spur but still got back and sign again in 1994 and played for seven years.
Elie was a champion player and has been known to have the guts to take the big shot. He was known as a Junkyard Dog and played a big role in the Spurs first title. Elie was a great locker room presence and was the main guy to guard at the perimeter. He provided scoring both from beyond the arc and in transition.
Bowen was an undrafted free agent known for his great defense who played in Miami and Boston for the last two years. The Spurs signed him and he was transformed to a reliable three and D that made him easy to be included in a team starter. Bowen became an All-Defensive First and Second Team in the next eight years from 2001 to 2009. He was a two-time runner up when Ben Wallace won Defensive Player of the year twice. He was a virtual Iron Man as he played consecutive games in three years without missing a game. Bowen was known to be a feared primary lockdown perimeter defender to the likes of Kobe, Nash, Billups, Paul and even Dirk. He won three titles with the Spurs and his jersey number 12 went up to the rafters of the San Antonio home court.
Together with Bruce, Jackson signed with the Spurs in 2001. Stephen played a huge role in the Spurs 2003 title run. He was the second-leading scorer in the finals next to Tim Duncan. His memorable games were in the Game Six of the West Finals and during the NBA Finals. He kept the team In the thick of things when they were down with his three-point accuracy and all-around offense.
In the summer of 2003, Robert Horry was acquired by the Spurs. He was remembered to be a clutch performer in the playoffs for making the big shots especially when it mattered the most. The most memorable he had was in Game five of the NBA finals against the Detroit Pistons. Before hitting the clutch three in overtime, Horry converted on a crucial basket that kept the Spurs in the game. Then, who can forget that Game 4 of the 2007 West Semifinals against the Suns?
In 2004, Brent Barry signed with the Spurs and helped provide depth and spacing with the Spurs offense. Barry was reliable shooting threes and was considered an underrated passer. With the lack of a playmaker next to Parker in the 2005 run, Brent, who was a former slam dunk champion, played point guard off the bench. He won two championships with the Spurs.
As the league was trying to revise a new labor agreement, Finley was waived by the Mavs to avoid the luxury tax. Figuring out where to sign from among the Heat, Pistons, and Spurs, Finley chose to sign with the Spurs and took a different role which was to provide toughness off the bench and shoot the lights out from beyond the arc. While the Spurs came up short in 2006, Finley helped the Spurs win it all in the next year. Finley played his best in game five against the Nuggets. The trophy was dedicated to him by his teammates.
Danny Green was waived by the Cavaliers and was then signed by the Spurs for a 10-day contract. After that in 2012, Green signed a three year deal with the Spurs. Developing into a three and D, he was then promoted to the starting line up that returned Manu back to his role as a sixth man. In 2013, he was close to becoming a 2013 Finals MVP until Ray Allen hit the dagger in game six. Green agreed to a salary cut with the Spurs on his multi-year deal in 2015. He won the Second All-Defensive team for his efforts in 2017.
Then Charlotte Bobcats waived Boris Diaw due to lack of work ethics for gaining too much weight that he could not perform at the highest level of basketball. Tony Parker, who was a childhood friend of Boris recommend to pick him up for the rest of 2012 season. Diaw was inserted in the starting line up of game three and until the remainder of the series. The rest was history as the Spurs won their fifth title. Boris’ style of play can be recalled as that of a point forward who played in the post. He waits for a double team and then hit an open teammate with his pinpoint passes. He was also capable of manhandling his smaller defender on the switch.
When the Spurs renounced the offer sheet to Gary Neal in 2013, they picked up a journeyman Italian sharpshooter in Marco Belinelli. He chose the Spurs rather than to sign elsewhere for huge money. Belinelli did a terrific job shooting from the three and was considered as an upgrade of a playmaker compared to Neal. He is best remembered for stopping the momentum of the Miami Heat in game three of their Finals series when they were gearing for a comeback by sniping from outside to stop the bleeding and helped them win the game.