Erazem Lorbek, Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair


Reports have come out the last few days stating Erazem Lorbek will join the Spurs this summer. Lorbek, in case you had forgotten, was part of the Spurs’ haul last summer when they dealt George Hill to Indiana for Kawhi Leonard on draft night (fun fact: Matt Moore at only mentioned Lorbek in the deal as “a pick from 2005 unlikely to ever head to the NBA”).

If true, this doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. Before taking on the Pacers on March 31, Coach Pop mentioned in his pre-game press conference in response to a question about next season’s roster that “the big kid in Europe can help us.” Presumably he was talking about Lorbek, and if Coach Pop is talking about any player that the Spurs have rights to that’s not already on the team, you can bet it’s a pretty solid lock.

In fact, I’m kind of shocked Pop remembers the team owns the rights to players outside the NBA umbrella. I’m not at all surprised, however, that Pop either didn’t know Lorbek’s name or decided against saying it.

So how does Lorbek fit in with the Spurs if he does indeed join the team this summer? I won’t pretend that I’ve watched extensive film on Lorbek in Spain, where he was the Spanish League Finals MVP this season. DraftExpress had Lorbek’s best case scenario as Memhet Okur when he was drafted. Most likely, he’ll fit into a similar role as Matt Bonner. Lorbek is a good outside shooter who can probably bang down low better than Bonner, but I doubt has the team defense skills that Bonner does. I can assure that Lorbek has a higher release on his hook shot than Tiago Splitter, so there’s that.

So Lorbek is another Matt Bonner. Do the Spurs need another Bonner?

No, they don’t. In fact, I don’t think it’s worthwhile for any team in the NBA to have more than one perimeter-based big man. So what do the Spurs do? This is where RC Buford and Co. get creative. I think the Spurs want to keep Diaw around, who I don’t see has a stretch big man, so long as Diaw doesn’t command too great of a price tag and are apparently bringing Lorbek over. That gives the Spurs six big men in a four man rotation.

If they can’t package him in a deal, I think you’re likely to see DeJuan Blair get waived. Blair is in the final year of his rookie contract, which is fully unguaranteed according to Sham Sports. The Spurs are on the hook for the entirety of that final year if they don’t waive Blair by November 1st, however, so they’ve got time to see how things play out before  getting rid of Blair without penalty.

Bonner is a different story. As much as I like the Red Rocket as a personality in the locker room for the Spurs, I think his time in silver and black has run its course and it’s time to cut him loose. Bonner is entering the second to the last year of his contract, which pays him about $3.6 mil this season. It’s all fully guaranteed, so they won’t be able to waive him this season.

The final year of his deal, in 2013-14, is only partially guaranteed. If the Spurs, or whatever team Bonner is on at the end of next year, waives him by June 29, 2013, he’s only guaranteed $1 million from that final season. Essentially, this makes Matt Bonner a sort of expiring contract next season. The Spurs can package him in a trade at the deadline to a team looking to shed salary, knowing they’d only have to pay him another $1 million beyond next season. Trading Bonner either this summer or next season is the most likely option for him.

With Erazem Lorbek likely coming to San Antonio this summer and the Spurs hopefully bringing back Boris Diaw, the odds are looking greater every day that Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair will not be with the Spurs next season. Both have trade-friendly contracts when part of a package, and DeJuan Blair can be waived at any time before November 1 without penalty. The Spurs big man rotation could be a lot different come next fall.

  • Titletown99030507d

    What about Illinois 7’1″ Meyers Leonard. Is he out of reach at the 15-21 pick?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Agree he was in no way responsible for our WCF exit. and if 1-4 was responsible Splitter was really the 4th behind Bonner, Diaw, and Timmy. Midway through the OKC series Pop gave up on Bonner (finally) and chewed Splitter out why? Then it was basically Timmy and Diaw taking on the entire OKC front court. What the hell was Pop thinking. He got amnesia and panicked then melted down and let Brooks hand him his coach of the year award and sent him home. Com’on Pop be consistent!

  • TD BestEVER

    I agree – POP shouldn’t start Blair all year just to completely bench him come playoff time……2 years in a row and it aint working…..either put him on the bench early or ride with him in the playoffs like he does Bonner and see what he can do.

    As for Splitter its the same thing……. when is the last time POP told Splitter to double team a SF ANYWHERE on the court……. now all of a sudden you want him to help and are pissed off that he is late………. Double teaming is a bad idea no matter how hot someone gets…… you are better off denying him the ball by fronting him or overplaying him.

  • Cal Durrett

    He’s been in the league 6 years and still looks like a rookie,lost. Mahinmi at no point in his career has ever been better than Splitter no matter what stats say.

  • Cal Durrett

    What has he really done with the Mavs? he was the 5th Big on their championship team and was the fourth on a 1st round team that got swept.

  • Cal Durrett

    I think Randolf is an Unrestricted Free agent.
    -An athletic big doesn’t grow on trees or every team would have one.
    -Randolf’s a small forward who is incredibly inconsistent on bad teams and can’t block shot and isn’t really that athletic.

    -Did you watch Splitter play this season, he was great. His PER was an 18 (15 is the league average 20 is an All star. He struggled with OKC’s 4 bigs but so did Duncan.

    Camby is someone we should look into.

  • Cal Durrett

    So you’re saying go after an injury prone, inconsistent player who struggled to put up numbers on losing teams.

  • Cal Durrett

    If George Hill could get us #15. Blair should get us a #20-25 pick on Hoop Hype it says several teams are trying to trade their 1st round picks because they don’t want to take on guaranteed contracts.

  • Cal Durrett

    they’d only use it on Bonners 3.6 million dollar salary.

  • Kphi07

    What ever happen to the richards kid from england? Is it a chance he can com over.

  • DorieStreet

    You could be on to something there.Read a little about him at True center (stays down low), intense guy on the court. Only 20, so he has time to learn and improve. I think there will be such a run on power forwards Thursday night that Leonard will be around after the 21st pick. After reviewing the other center prospects, I am starting to lean toward the Spurs acquring a true 5 spot guy who can start off as a backup and then who knows, could become a solid starter if they pick the right player. Look at what Roy Hibbert was coming out of Georgetwon and what he has become this season.

  • Scott

    Bring in Lorbek, trade Blair for a 2nd round pick and draft Miles Plumlee for the athletic big the team needs, then get the best deal possible for Bonner, worst case scenario, Amnesty him.
    Also with Duncan being resigned would like to see him offered $20m over 4 years, with a clause that gives him full buy out rights upon his retirement. I think that would really help the Spurs manage their cap and still give TD what he is worth to the franchise.

  • TD BestEVER

    Duncan DIN”T struggle – he had i think 2 off games and 1 ok game and 3 really good ones…… So you need to watch or learn to interpret what you are seeing

  • TDzilla!

    I didn’t know Lorbek was a woman.

  • calant

    Hi, i’m italian and i know Lorbek, he’s not like Bonner. He’s not as good as Bonner like perimeter-based big man but he’s mutch more, solid, rebounder….we will appreciate him.

  • Pingback: Nando De Colo coming stateside as well? | 48 Minutes of Hell()

  • Pingback: EuroReport: Catching Up With Spurs Draftees Oversees()