Reports: Spurs to sign Australian big man Aron Baynes

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This is some random news for early January: the Spurs are poised to sign Australian big man Aron Baynes from Slovenian team Union Olimpija. The news was originially reported by Sportando (or at least as originally as I can find), and has been confirmed by Marc Stein, Zach Lowe and Jonathan Givony, so it looks pretty legit.

According to Givony, the deal should be a three-year one, with the Spurs paying Baynes $750K for the rest of this season, followed by $2 million each in the following two seasons. Both next season and the following are team options. Again, everything is unofficial at this point, there’s no press release from the Spurs, so it could all fall through at some point. Nothing is for sure until there’s a press release in my inbox from the Spurs PR staff.

That said, there’s a lot of well-regarded folks saying this is going to happen, so I would expect it will. I’ll be keeping an eye on the executive’s box at tonight’s game against the Lakers, as the Spurs often invite guests of the team to sit there with the team’s front office and watch the game. If Baynes is there (I have no idea if he’s in San Antonio at all), that’s a pretty good sign that he’s going to be joining the team.

I’m not going to pretend I know anything about Baynes. According to DraftExpress, his predraft measurements list him as a 7-footer with shoes on and he’s got a 7’2.5″ wingspan. He played four seasons at Washington State from 2005-2009 before heading overseas to Lithuania. Union Olimpija is in the Euroleague competition, which is the best basketball played outside of the NBA, so he’s playing at a very high level. Union Olimpija, if you remember, is the team Danny Green played for during the lockout and current Spurs draftee Davis Bertans plays for (Updated: Actually, Bertans moved on to Partizan Belgrade, but he used to play for Union Olmipija).

Baynes is also a member of Australia’s Men’s National team, playing alongside Patty Mills and under former Australia coach, and current Spurs assistant, Brett Brown. So, like Mills, he should have a general sense of the system playing under Brown and some familiarity with at least a couple of people around him.

If this deal goes through, it sets up an interesting next few weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline, with DeJuan Blair and possibly Matt Bonner in line to get moved. I can’t imagine the Spurs carrying six big men on the roster for the rest of the season. Bonner would probably stick around, mainly because Baynes doesn’t seem like shooting type; Givony tweets that Baynes is more of a bruiser who picks up a lot of fouls.

Either way, it’s an interesting move in a season that’s been desperate for some news. Writing about injuries is far less interesting than transactions. Luckily for me, this could be the first of several dominoes to fall.

  • SargeSmash

    Fascinating. If he’s a bruiser, he could easily fill Blair’s role, without giving up so much height on the defensive end.

    Also, just thought of this, but isn’t Tiago due a payday pretty soon? This may be the Spurs trying to get ahead of possibly losing him.

  • Tyler

    Just a quick look at his #’s…..his per 40 stats are impressive (21 and 15 on 59% shooting in 10 Euroleage games). It doesn’t look like he’s much of a shot blocker though, less than 1 per 40. Maybe more of a positional defender, a la Tiago?

    Either way, an interesting move nonetheless. And considering the relative small salary, the risk/reward looks to be pretty good.

  • Scott

    Baynes is a hard worker, plays physically, so picks up a lot of fouls, and is a decent rebounder. He doesnt have a huge shooting range, but can shoot some. As soon as I saw that the Spurs were looking at him, it was obvious to me that they were looking to replace Blair, as they are very similar players, Baynes is just a few inches taller.

  • ThatBigGuy

    This move puts the Spurs about $200,000 over the tax line (by my sort of decent calculations). Blair seems like the most likely candidate to get shipped out or waived. I don’t see the Spurs placing a whole lot of emphasis on getting much back in return, but simply cap relief, most likely a future 2nd rounder or the rights to a foreign player.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Between Jax and Manu’s expiring contracts, and assuming Splitter turns down the qualifying offer, the Spurs will have $29 million to use this summer. If Manu comes back, he’s due for a pay cut, probably to $8 million, leaving $21 million to resign Splitter. If the Spurs have to match a $10 million per year offer to Splitter, they’d still have $11 million left to sign other players, including giving Neal a raise (a 4 yr, $25 million contract sounds about right).

    The Spurs will have enough cap room to sign Splitter no matter what, and still keep Manu, but it will be interesting to see how much they’ll actually spend to keep Splitter.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Between Jax and Manu’s expiring contracts, and assuming Splitter turns down the qualifying offer, the Spurs will have $29 million to use this summer. If Manu comes back, he’s due for a pay cut, probably to $8 million, leaving $21 million to resign Splitter. If the Spurs have to match a $10 million per year offer to Splitter, they’d still have $11 million left to sign other players, including giving Neal a raise (a 4 yr, $25 million contract sounds about right).

    The Spurs will have enough cap room to sign Splitter no matter what, and still keep Manu, but it will be interesting to see how much they’ll actually spend to keep Splitter.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Blair with a DNP last night–coincidence?

  • Melbourne Spur

    As an Aussie I watched Baynes in the Olympics recently, and he is reasonably athletic as far as big white guys go. Solid build, not afraid to bang, and is strong around the bucket. Don’t expect him to hit too many jumpers outside 10ft, but if you want a bigger back up defender than Blair, you got it.

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

    I think it was a coincidence. Pop only went nine deep and four guys pulled DNPs.

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

    What I get from this is that Bonner. Blair and Neal are all very movable at this point. Blair and Neal are on expiring deals but are also solid rotation players (at least I think Blair would be with a change of venue). And Bonner, as much as Spurs fans have come to dislike him, is a solid 3pt threat.
    The real question is what could the Spurs get with some combination of them?

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

    No Bonner, Nando or Mills either. And with Neal struggling a bit i would have liked to have seen Mills or Nando get some time.

  • Titletown99030507d

    The way the NBA is doing right now in signing proven players I wouldn’t be surprised if some loosing team offers him a shit load of money. Oh well I’ll enjoy the PNR’s and the SNR’s while he’s in a Spurs uni.

  • SargeSmash

    I keep forgetting about that. That being said, some team still may pay crazy money to get Splitter.

    Chances are, though, this is a prelude to trying to move Blair. There has to be some team that could use his skill set. I honestly feel bad for him, it’s not like he’s a bad player, just… he doesn’t fit well, I suppose.

  • http://twitter.com/chapnis Luke Naylor

    Neal should be more like a 3yr/$10mil contract. No way neal is worth 6mil a year

  • ThatBigGuy

    His jumper is the engine that drives the second unit. Plus his main skill is the most rare of NBA skills: a pure jump shot. Give him starters minutes and he’s JJ Redick (with the added ability to play a nominal PG role), who’s getting $6 million a year. If we don’t pay him, someone will.

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