Feb 25, 2024; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) reacts to a call against the Utah Jazz during the fourth quarter at Delta Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

As the NBA enters the final stretch of its regular season, one of the most intriguing storylines has been the emergence of Victor Wembanyama.

After beginning the season as a general curiosity on an uncompetitive team, the No. 1 pick of the 2024 NBA Draft has transformed into must-watch television — especially when he’s facing a fellow “unicorn” such as Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The only problem? Laying claim to a Western Conference-worst 13-48 record, the San Antonio Spurs very much remain uncompetitive. So much so that ESPN’s NBA Today spent a segment of Monday’s show speculating about Wembanyama’s future in San Antonio.

“I don’t want to hear that word anymore: timeline. Patience,” Ramona Shelburne said before recalling that the Spurs declined to pursue Damian Lillard last offseason because they weren’t ready to compete. “Victor is here. Victor is ready to win. I know that they have this idea that they’re going to take two or three years and find the right core and have them on the same timeline, but I don’t know how patient he’s going to be… how long do you give him, Malika? A year? Two?”

“A year, max,” host Malika Andrews replied emphatically.

After panelist Danny Green — a former Spurs player — pointed out that it will ultimately be head coach Gregg Popovich who dictates the team’s offseason approach, Kendrick Perkins disagreed.

“Victor don’t have to be patient… he’s the greatest prospect ever,” the former NBA center said. “For the first time, the pressure is on Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. They better get the pieces around him… he’s about winning now. He’s not trying to lose.”

All things considered, this was a fairly bizarre segment.

It’s important to note that Wembanyama has been a member of the Spurs’ roster for a grand total of 61 regular-season games. And while the 7-foot-4 center’s expedited progress does raise questions about San Antonio’s future moving forward, it’s incredibly premature to frame it as him running out of patience or being dissatisfied with the Spurs’ approach.

While Andrews, Shelburne, and Perkins didn’t say it explicitly, the implication that Wembanyama could become disgruntled in San Antonio was there. But while there are certainly several examples of unhappy NBA players asking for or demanding trades, there aren’t any notable examples of a player doing so while still on his rookie contract.

In fact, the NBA rookie scale largely prevents such scenarios from occurring. Ultimately, NBA teams have enough leverage to keep players through their rookie contracts and sign them to their first extensions — which for Wembanyama is still years away from happening.

Maybe he’ll buck that trend and become the first star player to request a trade while on his rookie deal. But again, there’s not even the slightest indication he’s even disgruntled at this point, let alone that he will be in the future.

NBA fans often complain about player movement being such a primary topic of the league’s coverage, even though the data suggests that such drama is exactly what they want (just ask JJ Redick). But while wondering what LeBron James might do next summer or whether Donovan Mitchell will sign an extension in Cleveland are legitimate questions with consequences that affect the current state of the league, any speculation regarding Wembanyama’s future in San Antonio at this point simply isn’t rooted in reality.

A few years ago, there was some speculation Luka Doncic would become the first star player to forego his rookie scale extension in hopes of forcing his way to another team. Ultimately, Doncic did what every star player before him has done and signed a massive extension with the Dallas Mavericks as soon as he could.

It’s a safe bet that Wembanyama will do the same with the Spurs. And even if he makes the unprecedented decision not to, that’s still a conversation that should be years away from happening.

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.