Spurs Season-In-Review: Cedi Osman's Future Unclear, But Feasible In San Antonio

Cedi Osman was brought in by the San Antonio Spurs to serve a complementary role, and after 72 appearances, he did that. Now, the question remains whether or not he's a prime candidate for sticking around.
Dec 13, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Cedi Osman (16) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers guard Max Christie (10) in the first half at Frost Bank Center.
Dec 13, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Cedi Osman (16) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers guard Max Christie (10) in the first half at Frost Bank Center. / Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports
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NOV. 28, 2023 — Round 2 of their 3-game season series against the Los Angeles Clippers wasn't worse on paper than the first one was for the San Antonio Spurs, but it felt like it.

Admittedly, there wasn't much lower to go than a 40-point loss, but being on the road against a team with four bona fide All-Stars just three games into the Victor Wembanyama era was sure to produce an ugly result. In other words, losing that bad the first time was expected.

The second time, however, was a different story.

Being at home with more games under their belt was supposed to help the Spurs to find their rhythm and put up a fight, but they didn't. LA walked into Frost Bank Center and delivered a 25-point smackdown to send San Antonio's fanbase home disappointed and rudely awakened.

READ MORE: Why Spurs' Final Matchup vs. LA Clippers Was Crucial and Telling

That game revealed that the Spurs were not going to be contenders. But, on a positive note, it also revealed a potential breakout star. Or so it seemed.

"When a team is [this] young, each [player] is hesitant," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the disparity between his team and the experienced Clippers. "Usually, your leaders are your best players, and they're usually All-Stars. So, when games wind down, we're going to be all over the map.

"We're going to lose big some nights and win other nights."

The Spurs' matchup against the Clippers certainly fit the former. They were all over the map, except for one player who looked calm and collected: Cedi Osman.

San Antonio Spurs forward Cedi Osman (16) shoots in the first half against the LA Clippers at the Frost Bank Center.
Nov 20, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Cedi Osman (16) shoots in the first half against the LA Clippers at the Frost Bank Center. / Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

That night at home, Osman took over in the first half to help the Spurs make a push at LA's lead before it inevitably pulled away late in the game. As a newcomer — acquired in the offseason from the Cleveland Cavaliers — he showed his worth with 17 efficient points.

Perhaps he was going to be a player the Spurs could bgin to rely in crunch times during games?

Perhaps not.

"He's a team player," Popovich said of Osman when asked about his standout performance. He's a complementary player, (but) we're not going to use him the way (the Clippers) use Paul George."

Osman went on the rest of the season being that "complementary" player. He knew why he was brought over, and not only did he embrace it, but he loved it.

“Changing teams and coming to a brand new team, it’s been a good change for myself,” Osman said. “I’m really happy I’m here.”

READ MORE: Does Every Free Agent Want to Play With Victor Wembanyama?

In one season with the Spurs, Osman averaged 6.8 points, 2,5 rebounds and 1.7 assists on near-50 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent from 3-point range. His numbers weren't as strong as they had been in years past, but such a change was part of transitioning to a new system.

And learning to play with a phenom like Wembanyama.

“You kind of get excited,” Osman said. “I think we realize what we’re capable of doing. I really feel comfortable with this team. I think in terms of experience it was a great year for us. Obviously we had a lot of ups and downs ... but it’s a process. It’s not something that’s going to click right away.

"We need to build this up, and I think we’re in good position to do that.”

Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) and forward Cedi Osman (16) block out Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5).
Jan 31, 2024; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) and forward Cedi Osman (16) block out Orlando Magic forward Paolo Banchero (5) in the second half at Frost Bank Center. / Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest question now remains what kind of role Osman can have on a Spurs team moving forward. The plan is simple: build around Wembanyama. That means adding either young talent in the draft or veteran talent in free agency or through trade, and with Osman holding a "complementary" role, that could very well change with new personnel.

That doesn't mean the Spurs are trying to get rid of him however. Osman was a strong piece of the young team and made his presence — whether it be on the court or in the locker room — felt. Popovich was sure to note that.

“He’s kind of a team favorite,” the coach said. “He’s a lot of fun. He gets in the game and none of us really know what he’s going to do, but he’s going to be active and aggressive.”

And as far as Osman is concerned? He's complementary, but also hopeful. His future with San Antonio is not yet known. But it's there. Its feasible.

Now, it's up to the front office to determine if that feasibility is worth it.

“I really built a great relationship here with everyone, and would love to come back,” Osman said of his status ahead of the offseason. “(But) at the end of the day, it’s a business. We’ll see how it goes.”

Season Grade: B-


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Matt Guzman

MATT GUZMAN

Matt Guzman is a sports journalist and storyteller from Austin, Texas. He serves as a credentialed reporter and site manager for San Antonio Spurs On SI and a staff writer for multiple collegiate sites in the same network. In the world of professional sports, he is a firm believer that athletes are people, too, and intends to tell stories of players and teams’ true, behind-the-scenes character that otherwise would not be seen through strong narrative writing, hooking ledes and passionate words.