Spurs sign Gorgui Dieng, reportedly beat out several contenders for veteran big man

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The San Antonio Spurs made the Gorgui Dieng signing official on Monday after the big man was waived by the Memphis Grizzlies last week. Dieng will fill the void left behind by LaMarcus Aldridge after he was bought out of his contract, and will allow San Antonio to focus on getting some of its younger players more touches on offense. 

In order to make room for Dieng on the roster, the Spurs released Marquese Chriss, who they traded for ahead of Thursday’s deadline. Before picking the Spurs, Dieng reportedly drew interest from several contenders across the league that included the Suns, Knicks, Clippers, 76ers, Raptors, Heat and Nets. Dieng credited a long-standing relationship with Spurs CEO R.C. Buford as a major reason that he ultimately opted to sign with the Spurs. 

While many of those teams that were also interested in Dieng are in a better position to make a run in the postseason, Dieng is joining a Spurs team that had a hole in their frontcourt, which gives him the opportunity at more playing time. He was only averaging 16 minutes a game on a young Grizzlies team that was focusing on growing its young core centered around Ja Morant. Dieng was pushed further down the depth chart in favor of playing a smaller lineup that featured guys like Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman in the frontcourt. 

With the Spurs, Dieng will likely receive a bulk of the backup center minutes behind Jakob Poeltl, and serve as a mentor for the other young bigs on the team. Although he’s no longer a regular starter in the league anymore, Dieng provides a great option on defense as a rim protector and rebounder. He’s currently averaging eight points and 4.5 rebounds, but with more playing time those averages are likely to go up in San Antonio. 

San Antonio being able to get Dieng over other teams who are seen as title contenders is a huge steal for a team that is in the thick of the playoff hunt. The Spurs have found some unexpected success this season behind excellent All-Star-level play from DeMar DeRozan, and improved play from young players like Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson

Their perfect mix of veteran leadership and scrappy young players has pushed them to a 23-20 record, good enough for the seventh seed in the West right now. The Spurs are going to miss Aldridge’s offensive production, but without him there it will allow for guys like Murray and Johnson to be more impactful on that end of the floor. Adding Dieng, who will wear No. 7 for them, will give them a boost on defense and should keep them in the hunt for a playoff spot for the remainder of the season.

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