Reports: Spurs to sign Australian big man Aron Baynes
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.