Spurs in mix to sign John Collins; Dejounte Murray’s cryptic tweet about trade rumors; Pop sounds off on reporter amid Team USA struggles

This week’s Spurs newsletter takes a look at why Hawks forward John Collins could land in San Antonio

(Dejounte Murray image for San Antonio Spurs Newsletter.

SAN ANTONIO – Whew, what a week this was for everything Spurs. From Coach Pop sounding off on a reporter after Team USA’s struggles to Dejounte Murray’s apparent displeasure with his name in trade rumors, there’s been no shortage of news when it comes to the Silver and Black. Welcome to this week’s KSAT.com Spurs newsletter.

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Spurs, 3 other teams in mix to sign free agent John Collins

Before we get to Pop and DJ venting some frustrations, let’s get to the latest with free agent John Collins. The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the Spurs and three other teams -- Dallas, Miami, Minnesota -- are likely to make a run at Collins in free agency.

But here’s the deal. The Spurs likely have the most money to spend on the Atlanta forward. San Antonio is expected to have nearly $50 million in cap space this summer. They can pay the most for Collins while those other suitors will have to make major roster moves to get enough cap space.

Of course, Collins could take less, but he is a restricted free agent and Atlanta could match any offer thrown his way. I don’t believe Atlanta breaks the bank for Collins with Trae Young due an extension soon, so it will be up to San Antonio to determine if he is worth nearly $28 million a year. That probably gets him to the Alamo City.

(AP Photo/Morry Gash) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Dejounte vents on social media

Reports surfaced a few days ago in The Athletic that Spurs guards Dejounte Murray and Derrick Whitecould both be gettable” in trades this summer. The article was part of a mock draft where the writer said to “keep an eye on San Antonio being active with the trade machine around the draft.”

Murray took to social media and posted a cryptic tweet that gives me the indication he’s very aware of the rumors. In my humble opinion, I don’t think the Spurs should trade DJ or D-White to move up a few spots in the draft. If a potential trade gets San Antonio from No. 12 to the top 4 or 5, then that’s a different discussion. There appears to be 5 to 6 players in this year’s draft that have all-star potential.

Moving Murray would be a tough decision though because DJ continues to get better and may be primed for a breakout year. He’s become a nightly triple-double threat and is one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. His usage rate has improved and he is coming off a career year. That all being said, the Spurs have missed the postseason in the past two years that Murray has been their point guard. He also struggles at times shooting from outside and his playmaking needs to improve, especially if DeMar DeRozan leaves the team.

Murray’s name has also been thrown around in some Ben Simmons trade possibilities. Philadelphia is steadfast they want an all-star caliber player and much more in a potential deal for their All-NBA point guard. But the Sixers have reportedly at least opened up trade discussions, and as previously mentioned, it seems clear the Spurs will be active.

(Dejounte Murray tweet amid trade rumors.)

Coach Pop sounds off on reporter after Team USA loss

Things have not gotten off to a great start for the US Men’s Basketball Team and coach Gregg Popovich. Before somewhat righting the ship on Tuesday against Argentina, the US Men’s National Team had lost back-to-back exhibition games against a solid Australia team and a Nigerian team that, while better, is not predicted to medal in Tokyo.

After Monday’s loss to the Aussies, Popovich got into a testy exchange with with Joe Vardon of The Athletic during the postgame media session. Vardon asked Team USA guard Damian Lillard about the team’s struggles this cycle compared to the dominance of year’s past and Pop took issue with the question. Here’s how it went.

“You asked the same sort of question, the same family of questions last time where you assumed things that are not true when you mentioned blowing these teams out, that’s never happened, so I don’t know where you get that,” Popovich said.

Vardon interjected, leading Pop to say, “Can I finish? Can I finish my statement? Are you going to let me finish my statement or not? So you’ll be quiet now while I talk and then i’ll listen to you.”

(AP Photo/John Locher) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

“When you make statements about in the past, just blowing out these other teams, number one, you give no respect to the other teams,” said Popovich. “I talked to you the last time about the same thing. We’ve had very close games against four of five countries in all these tournaments. The good teams do not get blown out. When you make a statement like that, it’s like you assume that’s what’s going on and that’s incorrect.”

Classic Pop I guess, but it’s pretty simple. Either Team USA is going to get its act together or this will be a colossal failure, similar to the 2004 games when Team USA won bronze with Tim Duncan and Pop as assistant coach. Yes, international teams have gotten much better since the 1992 Dream Team, but with the firepower on this current squad, there really should be no excuse for not winning the Gold Medal. And it seems like Team USA got the message for the moment after their blowout win over Argentina.

MORE SPURS HEADLINES: What’s next for Spurs home arena after AT&T pulls plug on naming-rights deal; Take our poll where you decide what the name of the arena should be next!

The most interesting Spur in the world, or former Spurs player, is Manu Ginobili. What has Manu been up to? “El Numero 20″ is still on the West Coast, but stopped down to watch his fellow countrymen Argentina beat Brazil in this year’s Copa America. True story, I once asked Manu’s parents at a Spurs game if Ginobili was more popular than Leo Messi and while Manu’s an icon, his parents said Messi probably still gets the nod. Still, there’s no way a Mount Rushmore of Argentine athletes doesn’t include the Spurs No. 20...MANU. FOREVER.

(Manu showing love to Messi and Neymar after Argentina-Brazil match.)

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About the Author

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio.

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