Originally written on Project Spurs  |  Last updated 6/28/13
In 1999, fresh off their first NBA Championship, with a roster set to return almost in its entirety, the San Antonio Spurs traded their first round pick, Leon Smith, and tabbed a few foreign prospects in the second round; most notably, one Emanuel Ginobili (as he was called on draft night) with the 57th pick.   On that night the Spurs practically invented the draft-and-stash—a strategy in which they select an intriguing young foreign prospect and allow them to develop overseas on someone else’s dime. It’s a process that has served the Spurs well, working as a sort of pseudo-free agent pipeline of established players to which the Spurs have exclusive negotiating rights. By selecting Livio Jean-Charles (France) in the first round, and Deshaun Thomas (Ohio State) in the second, the Spurs are once again taking the long view with their draft.   Jean-Charles was pegged as one of the top-20 players on the Spurs’ draft board, according to general manager R.C. Buford. At 6-9, with a 7-3 wingspan, Jean-Charles is a quality athlete, though described as more fluid than explosive. His potential is evident, as he showcased in a 27-point, 13-rebound performance at the Nike Hoop Summit against the United States’ best high school players. But his skill set is unrefined and a long ways from accessing the full depth of that talent, and Buford indicated he would be left in Europe to develop, saving the Spurs a $900,000 cap hit they can use to re-sign their own free agents or pursue another that can help immediately.     “We like his size, we like his athleticism. We’re hopeful he can play a couple of positions,” Buford said. “We think it’s a real good development opportunity. He plays for a very good coach and a very respected program. It’s a program that we’ll be able to partner with well.”   It’s a program with Spurs ties. Jean-Charles, 19, plays for ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne of the French Pro A League, of which Tony Parker owns a minority sake.   Those ties are key, as one might assume that the Spurs’ will hold some sway over his development process even while he’s still not officially connected to the parent club. One might wonder if Parker’s affiliation with ASVEL might work in the same capacity as the Austin Toros—developing players away from San Antonio, though against superior competition than found in the NBDL, and without triggering the clock on their valued rookie contracts.   With their second round pick, the Spurs took Deshaun Thomas out of Ohio State. As a junior, Thomas averaged 19.8 points and 5.9 rebounds, though he might be more memorable for refusing to give the Spurs his cell phone number until they drafted him. Thomas has a knack for scoring, though he’ll half to sharpen a few of his skills to fully utilize that ability at the NBA level.   “He can play a couple of positions,” Buford said. “I think everybody was relatively surprised [he was available]. He’s a scorer. You can put him in the post, he can slash. I don’t know if you’re going to be overwhelmed by any one thing, it’s the package that’s pretty good.”   The common theme tying these two picks together is flexibility. Notice that Buford mentioned their potential to play multiple positions? This draft was about the future. In the present, the Spurs were only a play or two away from winning their fifth NBA championship; a gap not likely to be bridged by the 28th or 58th pick in the draft. By the time these players are ready to contribute, Duncan, Ginobili, and possibly Parker, will likely be gone. Young, versatile, and malleable, there’s no telling how (or if) these picks will fit into the Spurs’ needs. But then, the same could be said coming off the Spurs’ first Finals run, when a stocked Spurs roster took a flier on their future so many years ago.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cam Cameron battling prostate cancer

RG3 to be held out 1-2 weeks after doctor changes mind

LA Kings offer Peter Budaj a professional tryout

Carlos Boozer hoping roster spot opens on playoff team

Starting EJ Manuel not a bad idea for Bills’ third preseason game

Tim Beckman fired by Illinois amid mistreatment allegations

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Chip Kelly reveals thought process behind Bradford trade

Charles Barkley on ex-agent: ‘I’d blow his damn brains out’

Bryce Harper doesn’t seem to care if Nationals make playoffs

Could the Spurs backups make playoffs in the east?

Josh Howard reportedly attempting NBA comeback

Reggie Wayne feels like a rookie with the Patriots

The WWE Divas Revolution is getting ugly

The NFL’s season kickoff isn’t going as planned, but plans don’t matter in the NFL

Jonathan Kraft: Patriots haven’t apologized to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen

Ballmer declines $60M/yr TV deal, could start streaming service

Nationals forced to re-issue massive bobblehead order

Jay Gruden would like the media to stop calling him fat

Spieth: Could new irons be reason for missed cut at Barclays?

The Opening Drive: Where have all the great UM tailbacks gone?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

The Orioles’ frustrating season

Andy Reid on calling perfect play: 'That’s like a good cheeseburger'

Five greatest NBA players of all-time

Finding signs of life for the Boston Red Sox

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The WWE Divas Revolution is getting ugly

The NFL’s season kickoff isn’t going as planned, but plans don’t matter in the NFL

The Opening Drive: What happened to all the great Michigan tailbacks?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

The Orioles’ frustrating season

Five greatest NBA players of all-time

Finding signs of life for the Red Sox

10 NFL players set for down seasons in 2015

Why NFL preseason games matter

August's winners and losers in sports

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker