Erazem Lorbek, Matt Bonner and DeJuan Blair

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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 CBSSports.com 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.

  • http://twitter.com/sstewart1617 Sam Stewart

    If the Spurs can’t get anything for DeJuan Blair and have to waive him, they should all be fired.  At the very least he is worth a 2nd rounder to somebody, especially with his cap friendly deal.  

  • Joe

    Any chance we can get a high second/low first for Blair if someone like a Quincy Miller falls that low??

  • Bruno Pongas

    Lorbek is much more than a simple Bonner – believe me.

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    I don’t doubt it, he was just the most comparable player I could point to.

  • AM

    Don’t the spurs still have that amnesty clause?

  • http://48minutesofhell.com Andrew A. McNeill

    Yes, they still have the amnesty and stretch provisions available.

  • Chemaxx

    As a spanish Spurs fan, I can tell you Lorbek is a totally different player from Bonner, and a much better one I would say. Better individual defender, actually has a post game and he is a MAJOR improvement in terms of rebounding compared to Bonner. Besides, he is probably as good as a shoother, although his adaptation to the NBA 3 point range would be an important issue. I also like his mindset better, with this east-european / jugoslavian relentless and meltdown free attitude

    If this is true and the Spurs are to grab him, I would keep him ahead of Bonner and Blair, hands down. A rotation of Duncan, Diaw, Splitter and Lorbek will be better than this year’s.

  • rudy tesoro

    If Lorbek plays like Bonner, then the Spurs have no use for him. The Spurs might be shopping around Bonner, why get another one? The best the Spurs could do is re-sign TD at a reduced contract and sign a long, big, younger free agent. 2nd, maybe shop around Splitter with one of the teams with multiple ist round draft pick/s. 3rd, Trade Jackson to get rid of his ridiculous contract or restructure it. 4th, let the Celtics have Green if they are really interested in exchange for draft #21-22. Trade Blair for a low ist round draft or a 2nd round draft

  • http://twitter.com/ejwestksu Eric Westerman

    A player like Matt Bonner is a highly valuable commodity to the Spurs system – the problem with Matt Bonner is that he doesn’t play like Matt Bonner once playoffs start. If Lorbek can be a stretch big (and he’s better on the block than Matt, even if that’s not his forte) who doesn’t shrivel in the postseason, that’s worthwhile.

    Outside of Tim Duncan re-upping for basically the minimum, there’s no way the Spurs can create enough cap space to be major players in free agency. Not that it matters, because there aren’t any real attractive young free agent Bigs available anyways.

  • http://twitter.com/ejwestksu Eric Westerman

    That’s what I’ve wondered. Blair’s efficiency #s are pretty stout. He’s outperformed his draft pick and his knees don’t seem any worse for the wear. With his defense, he has virtually no value to a championship club, but could some of the teams with sandwich picks from 25-40 be interested in an undersized big who is virtually guaranteed to give you 12 & 8 + effort with regular minutes???

  • http://twitter.com/ejwestksu Eric Westerman

    For being a “MAJOR” improvement in rebounding over Bonner, Lorbek sure didn’t rebound much in Europe. His RB/36 are virtually the same to Bonner’s career numbers. I also haven’t seen much that would indicate he would be a defensive upgrade.

    That said, I do feel he would be a boon to the front line rotation as a whole – I’m just not sure it would be felt in every category as some are hinting.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Blair and Bonner are both worth something to someone, so if the FO is adamant about moving them, I’m sure we can get back picks for them. They both have useful and valuable skills (rebounding and shooting) that other teams desire and will be willing to offer equal payment.

  • SBoynton

    Blair and Bonner are spare parts come playoff time, to be sure, but they provide valuable minutes during the regular season and I doubt Erazem Lorbek would be an improvement, though I admit to knowing nothing about him. I think the keys to improvement next year are having a more in shape Diaw and more experienced Leonard and Green, all three of which seem reasonable. If those three things occur, the Spurs will be very tough.

  • rj

    unfortunately, this new big man line up will not help us in pick n roll defense and rim protection. Nice to see that you guys finally stopped moping around with a gallon of rocky road and wrote up a new article. How about writing something about the spurs needs at back up pg and another playmaking guard?

  • Tyler

    Lorbek has always been a pretty solid player. And even though his #’s might indicate he’s a perimeter oriented big, he’s much more physical and rugged down low than Bonner; much more of a bruiser. Some might remember him playing for Michigan St. for a year and being pretty solid as a frosh. He’d be a good addition to the rotation.

    Truth be told, I doubt very seriously we’ll see Blair in a Spurs uniform next year. Simply, what he gives you is fairly replaceable. He also hasn’t markedly improved since being drafted – he still has no semblance of a jumper, he still tends to rush when defended by longer athletes and he gambles too often on defense. I’m not quite sure what the market is for him (or if there is a market), but if nothing else it will give us more space to resign Diaw, which I’m sure is a priority.

  • lvmainman

    Trade Matt Bonner for Anthony Randolph in a sign and trade. Win, win for both teams. Similiar contracts, similiar disdain by both team’s fans.
    Spurs get rid of a playoff worthless type player. Spurs gain an athletic 6’11” forward that can block shots, make FT’s, and run the floor. Not to mention, he’d be like getting a rookie with 4 yrs, NBA experience, since he’s only 22 yrs old.
    Why are people so high on this Lorbek if he’s Bonner 2.0? Especially, as a Spanish league MVP, when that’s what Splitter was, right?

  • rj

    i like the idea of putting together some sort of package involving a combination of splitter, balir, bonner, and neal to move into the 1st round or even the lottery. Lets procure these nice role players into high draft picks. This finals should be over soon. Let speculation begin!

  • ernestnegro

    Disagree at all!! Lorbek has de best low post skills in europe!! She’s a good shooter too but he isn’t a perimeter based player at all!!

  • RGV SPURS FAN

    I dont know much about Lorbek but as long as he is tall and sturdier than Blair even though I like Blair as a regular season player, I think Lorbek will help with the teams that are stocking up on the BIGS however we need to stock up in BIGS that are athletic and have a decent shot. Cuz come playoffs we need BIGs who can run the court and can shoot from outside and not these baby shots that are just a foot or two away from rim. Before this is taken care of, the Spurs Master Minds need to figure out how to get back into the first round of early 2nd round to get a supposedly “DEEP” draft class. I say look for a player who can go both 3/4 spots.

  • STIJL

    I think there will be no rush in releasing and/or trading, amnestying a player until Lorbek shows he’s better for the team than those just listed. And don’t be surprised to see at least a couple to three other new bigs in camp. As far as Splitter…his off season regime should be dedicated to becoming a better defender and free throw shooter because my belief is he should not be guaranteed to be here either if he doesn’t improve in those areas and could very well be trade fodder as might be Bonner and Blair.

  • rudy tesoro

    Randolph squandered precious years in the nba. If he is still the same player, he will thrive in Spurs uniform. He is a restricted free agent, right?

  • Senorglory

    A higher and/or quicker release at the three point line might lead to greater playoff success in our system.

  • Joe

    Its about time we get a new article up! I always enjoy the articles written here and always kinda wished there were more available. Thanks for what you guys do!

  • http://twitter.com/Luke_Mellow Lukas Kuba

    Talk about 2013 International… Virgin Islands, Argentina, France, France, France (?), Brazil, Slovenia (?), Australia, Canada. I love the Spurs!

  • http://profiles.google.com/lordxar Ray Briggs II

    I don’t know anything about Lorbek but since he will be brand new to NBA I certainly would expect little to nothing from him in his first season. It always seems to take foreign bigs some time to acclimate to NBA.
    I am 100% in favor of moving Bonner is we can and then waiting on Blair until Nov 1st. The Bonner experiment is officially a failure and probably should have ended last summer. I’m sure some team out there is willing to part with a pick and prospect for him.

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  • Doriestreet

    Blair and Bonner are not spare parts come playoff time—they are the wrong parts. A major strength of the Spurs’ success this season came out of the deep rotation used during games–the bench was better than the opponents offered, or they wore down teams who used just 2 or three players beyond their starters. During the first and second round, Blair’s DNP-CDs and Bonner’s annual post-season vanishing act didn’t matter against inferior opponents, but their absence versus OKC was a handicap. The Spurs could not wear them down; in fact, the Spurs were worn down once OKC adjusted their lineup and rotations to stop the perimeter game and then uptempoed their offense.
    The same thing happened last year, but in a different way, against Memphis. Manu’s and Tim’s injuries overshadowed the take on the series (in most fans’ opinion) but again, the Spurs are down 2 post players in particular and 2 players overall on the front line, and the result is the same- 2 wins, 4 losses (with no wins on the road in either series) and a playoff exit.

  • STIJL

    Agree totally with this. And…where have you been Dorie? Nice to see your posts again.
    Following up on what you said…I think it should be the Spurs number one priority to landing a dominant post player who can be counted on to perform solidly in the paint both offensively and defensively when Duncan is not present on the court. Even if it means loosing one of their established perimeter players in order to land such a post player. At this time…the Spurs have NO post player on their current roster that can adequately spell Duncan when Duncan is not in the game. Consequently as you pointed out…when that happens…teams can focus on the Spurs perimeter game without damage to their interior game because the Spurs simply don’t have adequate relief in the post when Timmy is out. Where as on the contrary…the Spurs have a bevy of perimeter players they can mix and match even if they should loose one of them via trade this off season.

  • lvmainman

    He’s a restricted free agent, but I don’t know if the Twolves offered him the minumum contract yet. He really has no spot on that team at the 4 position with Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and the #2 pick Derrick Williams in front of him on the depth chart.
    The Spurs need a player like him as far as youth, size, and athletic ability are concerned.

  • Patrick

    The more I hear about San Antonio’s need for another defensive big man, the more I wonder why they never gave Ian Mahinmi a real chance. His per 36 stats last year for the Mavs were about 12pts 10rebs and a block. All on 56% shooting. Sounds like a cheaper Tiago Splitter to me. Plus he is much more athletic and has shown an ability to hit from more than 4 feet out.

  • TD BestEVER

    While I would agree Blair may not be a good fit for this team. I can’t blame the lost series vs OKC on him. That’s POP fault for not playing him. You can’t blame Patty Mills for not being a better backup when he didn’t get the chance. Bonner got his minutes and did nothing with them. Blair would have made a difference in this series one way or another. He is too good to not have had an impact. Either he would have played well and we would have won this series or he would have gotten torched and we would have lost sooner. But it’s hard to blame the 5th big on the bench for a loss. You need to look at 1-4 1st

  • DorieStreet

    Notice that I put DNP-CDs behind Blair’s name. This is two consecutive years that Pop has taken him out of the starting lineup toward season’s end, then take Blair out of the rotation during the playoffs. It wouldn’t suprise me if DeJuan request a trade. And why acquire Mills, then not play him at all (except mopup time in the first 2 rounds)?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Because he was a skinny kid when we let him go compared to now. We held on to him too long and was injury prone but unfortunately for us he gained some muscle and playing time with the Mavs.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Good point. Splitter wasn’t exactly chopped liver in Europe and he’s improving steadily but not in leaps and bounds here in the NBA. Having said that Spltter is way far ahead than Lorbek in the learning curve and really only has had last season as a good full year. I don’t expect much from this Lorbek guy. Hope I’m wrong.

  • Titletown99030507d

    That wouldn’t be a smart thing to do. He’s been in this system physically 1 good year and I see him better by the time the first regular season game starts again next season. He’s better than most big men 3rd in the rotation on any given team. And if he gets better he could be battling Diaw for time if Pop knows what he’s doing. I like the meltdown Pop had in the OKC series. Brooks handed him his a$$.

  • Titletown99030507d

    And we will just have to wait around for him to get the NBA style of play under his grasp let alone the all complicated Pop system. Hope I’m wrong. Keep Splitter he’s just that much ahead why start all over and he’s older.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Ok how about OJMAYO? If we settle for Lorbek
    (hope not) for the cheap and Timmy gets a severe reduction because money is secondary to winning a Title for him then who knows? Tht would be a shocker. And while I’m dreaming Add KG to the mix if he want’s to play with Timmy for next to nothing. None of this is reallisitic, but crazier things have happened in the summer. Right Memphis?

  • Titletown99030507d

    But not on the same team?

  • Titletown99030507d

    Really you would let Splitter go for low first round college kid pick? HMMMNot me.

  • TD BestEVER

    i AGREE 100% i THINK pop falls in love with certain aspects of someones game and completely ignores all their shortcomings……with Bonner its his shooting – Diaw his passing……. POP should have stuck to his regular rotation other than putting Diaw as our stretch 4 and kept Blair starting……. You can always yank him early and have Diaw start the 3rd if Blair isn’t playing well……..

  • Titletown99030507d

    As far as I’m concerned Green is a Bonner 2.0 in the playoffs. Until he proves otherwise he needs to be shopped. Why do we want another no show playoff player? You guys are writing splitter off you may as well do the same for Green. And Diaw did not impress me with his height or lack of it in the OKC series. He’s another one I wouldn’t write home about in regards to the playoffs (OKC )

  • Titletown99030507d

    Especially when allMills did was torch the net.

  • DorieStreet

    Randolph just finished his 4th NBA season, but has played in only 170 games- the equivalent of 2 full seasons. Warriors, Knicks, Timberwolves- the guy has never been on a winning team, much less a playoff contender. Getting on with the Spurs could rejuvenate his basketball psyche, thus his career.

  • DorieStreet

    @ STIJL – thanks. A family matter kept me away from the computer, but I saw all of the playoffs except for 3 games. I was traveling during WCF game 4 but listened on the radio (Serge Ibaka going 11 for 11??!!). After seeing game 5, I could not muster up the courage, faith, hope, zeal to watch game 6 –I apologize fellow Spurs Fans.
    As someone posted earlier, Anthony Randolph could help the team in the post.
    From the draft: can the Spurs move up to the late first round and see who’s still there to select a good prospect?
    North Carolina’s John Henson- 6’10 1/2″ but too light at 216 lbs
    Miss. State’s Arnett Moultree- 6’10 3/4″, 233 lbs. -solid, not flashy
    Norfolk State’s Kyle O’ Quinn – 6’10” 241 lbs – went for 26 pts. and 14 rebounds when his team upset Missouri in NCAA tournament, then grabbed MVP honors at a post-collegiate invitational tournament.
    Duke’s Miles Plumlee- 6’11 3/4″ , 252 lbs -playing for an elite program and under Coach K – could be good off the bench (trade for another 2nd round pick?)

  • DorieStreet

    Remember ions ago, on the first championship run- 3rd game of the 1st round series vs. Timberwolves. In the 2nd quarter, the Admiral got tied up with someone, and the players came together in a would-be fracas. I remember Garnett popping Tim on the back of his head, but no official saw it. I have had a disdain for KG ever since.
    Granted, he will bring an edge, and he still has game.
    That would be a hoot – Spurs win next season’s title with two 37 year-olds controlling the paint. (Instead of the twin towers, think the Empire State and Chrysler buildings.)

  • DorieStreet

    After the Olympics, Tiago should vacation a bit, then head out to the vineyards and have a sitdown with Pop. Then get with Chip England. The injuries and the inconsistent playing time have set him back and hurt this team come playoff time last year and this year.
    Everybody needs to get on the same page so Splitter can average 14 and 7 in 2012-13.

  • TD BestEVER

    IMO – EVERYONE on the team has something NEGATIVE working against them in regards to them being possibly traded……. Even the big 3…..
    TD – is 37
    TP – can’t lead the team to a title – will need a “Detroit 04″ type team to do so
    Manu – has big games and then no show games
    KL – has a ceiling of Tayshaun Prince AT BEST
    Diaw – can’t or won’t score the ball
    Green – inconsistent (either on fire and can’t miss / or can’t put one in the ocean)
    Jackson – Crazy as hell
    Neal – too small for the 2 guard but can’t play point – possibly replaceable by Mills
    Splitter – See Green
    Bonner – just plain sucks – has always sucked – glad you guys are no longer having “Defend Bonner weeks” here
    Blair – height, see Splitter
    Anderson – no room for him at all on team
    Mills – may not be much room for him either

  • Nima K.

    Just wanted to mention again, Adam Hanga’s agent has tweeted that Adam is coming to SA for a 2 week practice/workout session. FYI.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Hit it right on the head Dorie. He’s capable of doing it game in game out but like you said the focus needs to be on that. That’s a realistic scenario for Tiago granted he gets the minutes on consistent basis. Interesting to see what happens this coming season because this is the year they either use him or they just let him waste away. He needs every game real minutes to be ready for the playoffs.

  • Titletown99030507d

    You pretty much call that one right. Who do we keep? As for KL that’s not a bad thing. TD will start to really show his age in the next several 82 game seasons. Love him but he’ll need to sit even more games next season and thereafter in order to keep his pace. Manu is another that’s breaking my heart. This guy has the greatest heart on the court but when your body says no it’s tough. Diaw has greater potential if he would only stop acting as point guard and let her fly but he still doesn’t cure the ill we have defensively in the paint.
    Blair is a good kid and a great rebounder Pop should have put him out there a lot more with Splitter instead of Bonner but you know how if ands or buts go. I’m shocked as to Green melting down in the OKC series time to shop him for a 15-21 draft pick. Something says in the back of my mind that the FO should keep Anderson around especially if they move Green and Manu needs more rest. As for Bonner well he’s a another good guy but he should jst “Take OFF” to great northwest. I wish we could keep Mills that little mouse can torch the net if anything when everybody is cold for a few minutes to get a run going then out because of his inability to compete with bigger guards defensively.
    I like Jackson they should give him yoga classes. Neal is another net torcher but cannot handle the ball and again can’t stand up to bigger guards defensively.
    As for TP well he’s still a top 5 pt guard in this league. Look what happened to Westbrook, and Rhondo.
    Saving Splitter for last just because he’s one of my favorite Spurs and I followed him in Europe like if you didn’t already guess. You got his description right but in his defense like Dorie stated they either use him as a major contributor like Timmy or there’s no sense in keeping the poor guy around and wasting him. Regular minutes and making him 2nd focal point in the big rotation could yield him 14/7 like Dorie said. I agree with that. The run he was on when Timmy would sit and while Manu was out was consistent but then when the season was coming to an end Pop just put him on the shelf and then expected him to magically play to the standards when he was getting those big minutes. Kinda what he did to Blair again. By the time Blair saw action in the OKC series we were getting torched and its was just too late by then for him to get into any rhythm.
    You are correct about the entire team and Pop has big decisions to make. Just hope they are good ones.

    These are the ones I want to see stay when the Silver and Black suit up again not naming Timmy, Manu, TP, KL:

    Mills, Jackson, Anderson, Neal, and Splitter

    The ones I didn’t mention would bring us good picks in the draft. If I really had to add one more it would be Neal.