The San Antonio Spurs have a history of drafting and signing international players who turn out to be extremely productive. And they may have found another gem in Latvian Davis Bertans, as there is speculation that he could join the Spurs for this upcoming season.
Eurohoops is reporting that San Antonio will offer Bertans a minimum contract for the 2016-17 season. The 23-year-old has one more year left on his contract with his Spanish club Laboral Kutxa, but he can be bought out. The Spurs acquired the six-foot-10 forward from the Indiana Pacers on draft day in 2011 along with the draft rights to Kawhi Leonard and Erazem Lorbek for George Hill.
Bertans’ career has been derailed by two torn ACL injuries, with the latest being in early 2015 causing him to miss part of the 2015-16 season. Still, he appeared in 39 games across all competitions this year and produced 7.8 points along with 2.5 rebounds in 22.6 minutes of action. Bertans shot 43.3 percent from the floor and 42.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Bertans is now fully recovered, according to San Antonio News 4. He performed well during Euroleague action, averaging 7.87 points while shooting 51.4 percent from the field along with 47.4 percent from beyond the three-point arc in a little over 20 minutes of action.
Bertens is a sharpshooter who can play either forward spot. He can shoot the ball off the dribble, as well as off the catch, and possesses decent athletic ability. He can also get to the rim and will block an occasional shot.
Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, Manu Ginobili, Boban Marjanovic, Patty Mills, and Tony Parker are international players that were on the Spurs’ roster last season. San Antonio also previously drafted Luis Scola, Ian Mahinmi, Nando de Colo, Goran Dragic, Tiago Splitter, Beno Udrih, and Leandro Barbosa.
In addition, the Spurs still own the rights to Serbian center Nikola Milutinov, Serbian guard Nemanja Dangubic, Frenchman forward Livio Jean-Charles, Hungarian swingman Adam Hanga, and British forward Ryan Richards. All of the above players are currently playing in Europe.
Milutinov is a 21-year-old, six-foot-11 center who was drafted in the first round of the 2015 draft. He likely won’t be coming overseas for a while as he is still raw and currently under contract with Olympiacos. Milutinov averaged 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds while shooting 59.7 percent from the floor in less than 12 minutes of action per game last season.
Dangubic, drafted with the 54th selection in 2014, was acquired by San Antonio from the Philadelphia 76ers for the 58th and 60th picks of that year’s draft. The 23-year-old plays for Crvena Zvezda (Croatia), averaging 5.3 points and shooting 44.8 percent from the floor as well as 36.5 percent from the three-point line in 50 games over all competitions in 2015-16.
Jean-Charles was selected in the first round of the 2013 draft by San Antonio with the No. 28 overall pick. The 22-year-old currently plays for ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne (France), averaging 6.8 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 57.3 percent from the floor in 22.9 minutes per game over 45 contests this year.
Jean-Charles struggled in his five games of Summer League basketball with the Spurs last summer, averaging 3.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.6 fouls in 19.5 minutes while shooting just 28.6 percent from the field. He had his cap hold removed by the league office last July, therefore, the six-foot-nine forward is unable to sign with the team until this July.
Hanga was a second-round pick in the 2011 draft. The 27-year-old will likely never play in the NBA. The six-foot-seven forward averaged 9.7 points and 4.6 rebounds in 69 games for Laboral Kutxa in 2015-16.
Richards will also not likely be coming over to NBA ever. The seven-foot 25-year-old is currently playing in the Bahraini Premier League. The 2010 second round selection played with the Spurs summer league team in 2013 and 2014.
San Antonio could very well add another international player in this year’s draft, as they hold the No. 29 selection, but Adam Kennedy of Basketball Insiders recently tweeted that the Spurs are interested in moving up in the draft.
The San Antonio Spurs have explored moving up in the first round of the draft, per sources. They currently have the No. 29 pick.— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) June 9, 2016
Fansided believes that one practical trade partner for the Spurs is the Phoenix Suns. The Suns own three first round selections, No. 4, No. 13, and No. 28. Phoenix acquired the No. 28 pick from the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas and the 13th pick from Washington for Markieff Morris.
Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Denver are also possibilities as all four teams own multiple first-round selections.
[Photo by Darko Vojinovic/AP Images]