LeBron domino doesn’t affect Spurs much, but Bosh might

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LeBron James decided to “return home,” announcing he would be signing with the Cleveland Cavaliers. As Matthew Tynan recently touched on, what LeBron does doesn’t have a direct impact on what the Spurs do the rest of the offseason, they were mostly focused on bringing Boris Diaw and Patty Mills back. They did so and at fair deals no less.

Between then and now, the LeBron bombshell happened and now other dominoes will fall and the first one appears to be where Chris Bosh will go. The reports have been out all week that the Houston Rockets are going to make a max contract offer and that domino should matter greatly to the Spurs. A Chris Bosh-Dwight Howard front line would rival Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan as the most dynamic in the league and is probably a little more well-rounded due to Bosh’s outside shooting and defensive ability. The Houston matchup becomes particularly problematic for the Spurs because as bad as their perimeter defense is, a Bosh-Howard duo can erase a lot of those deficiencies. More importantly it also spreads Houston’s offense out even more. Last season, the Rockets were constantly looking for an answer at power forward, eventually settling on Terrence Jones. Jones was effective, but not the floor spacer the Rockets coveted at the position. Say what you want about Houston’s nearly non-existent defense last year and whether Kevin McHale is a good coach, this is a problem the Spurs.

So can the Spurs counteract this move? Do they need to? The obvious answer is to counter a skilled big man with one of your own. The Pau Gasol rumors persist and you can’t help but think his passing, post play and smarts would fit in perfect with the Spurs. There are durability concerns, but with Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw all in the rotation, managing Gasol’s minutes seems like something that wouldn’t be difficult to accomplish. Gasol isn’t the player the Spurs need, but the thought of what the Spurs offense would look like with Gasol inserted in it is incredibly exciting.

But again, is adding Gasol, or anyone using the mid-level exception (MLE) necessary for the Spurs to be considered favorites in the Western Conference next year? The potential of Bosh in Houston, not to mention Kevin Love in Golden State, makes navigating through the Western Conference about as fun as watching Oliver Stone’s Alexander (it’s been in the HBO rotation lately, just don’t). All the depth you can get helps, especially when you’re talking about someone like Gasol.

However, there are long term implications to think about when using the MLE. After next season, the Spurs will have roughly $18.5 million in committed salaries, assuming the reported numbers for Diaw and Mills are accurate. However, Kawhi Leonard’s extension is coming and as Tynan noted, a max contract for him starts at $14.75 million. And considering Gordon Hayward and Eric Bledsoe are about to get maxed out, you can be sure Leonard is getting the max or really, really close to it. Say what you want about the Spurs getting guys to take less, you can’t count on a guy taking less on his first big pay day. That puts the Spurs salary at $33.25 million for 2015-2016. Then the fun begins for next summer. Tony Parker is an unrestricted free agent and with teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks potentially having max salary money to spend next summer, Parker’s going to be in demand. What if he gets a max offer? He’s never gotten paid like a superstar and this might be his last chance. Just guessing, but his next contract probably looks something three years, $45 million ($15 million a year).

So that puts the Spurs payroll at just over $48 million. The futures of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili won’t be known until after the season. Then you have to factor in Danny Green, Marco Belinelli, Cory Joseph and Jeff Ayers’ expiring contracts. The salary cap will go up from $63 million, most likely in the $67 million range. This means the Spurs won’t have max money to spend, but very close if you exclude any cap holds. If you add in an extra $5.3 million to their salary, it reduces their options. That’s not to say they shouldn’t use it to upgrade their roster, but there are short term and long term goals to think about.

The summer of 2014 is just getting going for the NBA. It likely won’t be very exciting for the Spurs, but the dominoes that are starting to fall and they’re going to have an impact on the Spurs quest for a repeat. Whether they choose to react to those dominoes remains to be seen.

  • DorieStreet

    I don’t see LAL and NYK making drastic turnarounds during 2014-15 where a year from now they’re giving max dollars to

  • DorieStreet

    And–I’ll let R.C. and Pop think ahead to next July. (It’s their job.)
    I’M STILL CELEBRATING CHAMPIONSHIP NO. 5!!!!!

  • theghostofjh

    Amazingly, this sounds pretty promising to me:

    Ramona Shelburne: Regarding Pau: top two now Chi/Spurs..if Bulls can’t do sign and trade with Lakers, likely he goes to Spurs Twitter @ramonashelburne – See more at: http://hoopshype.com/rumors.htm#sthash.BHHchGal.dpuf

    Gasol could help extend our run. He’s a perfect fit in all the right ways, and he still has plenty left in the tank.

  • theghostofjh

    Looks like Bosh re-signing in Miami. Good for him, and good for the Spurs.

  • Ryan McShane

    Good for him for getting just a little bit more money in the first four years (and a guaranteed 5th year), bad for him because Miami isn’t going to win championships with just him and Wade in Miami (unless Carmelo does a 360 and signs there). He would have been better off in Houston. Houston would have been instant championship contenders (and they might still be this year without him).

  • Alex

    Adding a Spaniard would complete the Foreign Legion. Just saying.

  • theghostofjh

    Everything in life is not about winning championships, and there’s something very unappealing about doing it by stacking your team with in-prime, hall of fame caliber players. That’s why the Spurs title this year is such a great story for professional basketball. They did it with teamwork, etc. And as long as Riley is in Miami, I wouldn’t count the Heat out over the next few years. Wade could still have a resurgence left in him, like what happened with Duncan, and we should also see Bosh back to his old self. The Heat just need a solid center to rebound, score a bit in the post, and defend the paint to get Bosh back to his normal PF position. He’s a deadly offensive player, and a decent defender. And btw, they might still be able to get Luol Deng or Trevor Ariza for this year. They’ll get their shot in the playoffs. You never know how good they’ll turn out, although obviously losing James is a big blow.

  • theghostofjh

    “Sources told ESPN.com that Gasol is giving strong consideration to signing with defending champion San Antonio — despite the Spurs’ limited financial resources with such a deep roster …. Oklahoma City has been pursuing Gasol as hard as anyone, but sources indicated Friday that the Spurs have joined the Bulls ahead of the Thunder in Gasol’s pecking order.”

    http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/11205325/chicago-bulls-san-antonio-spurs-emerge-leading-contenders-land-pau-gasol

  • theghostofjh

    This new one doesn’t sound too good:

    Jesús Sánchez: Bulls and Lakers are finalizing a sign-and-trade deal for Pau Gasol Twitter @Sanchez__Jesus – See more at: http://hoopshype.com/rumors.htm#sthash.fvSxwaCk.dpuf

  • Tess

    For sure. A team built around Tony, Kawhi, and Pau is still a solid playoff team a couple of years from now.

  • Carlo

    Miami also need a good PG. James was good at sharing the ball, at least until things started to go pearshaped and everybody went in panic-mode, asking him to do everything and then again.
    Anyway, I’m happy Bosh stays in MIA for two reasons: Rockets don’t get too strong and MIA don’t get too weak, so the East “could” be a little balanced to provide some decent show.

  • Carlo

    I bet he goes to CHI. I think they got more money for him and he wants a prime city environment. Plus, he’ll definitely fit a starting five role (Boozer’s), while in SA he’d one of the rotation. Main drawbacks for him: SA is already a proved winner and they know how to manage a not-so-fresh star (like he is today). Knowing Thibs, he’ll squeeze Pau’s blood up to the last drop. Besides, with all his IQ and talent, Pau has never been reknown for his tough work ethic: when pressed or not pleased, he tends to get lazy (or injured…)

  • theghostofjh

    At least they drafted the best PG in the draft. But yeah, they could still use help there from a good play-making, experienced vet.

  • theghostofjh

    Yes, no doubt. And he would give us an awesome shot a repeating as champions for the first time in franchise history. Too bad it looks like he’s going to Chicago. Can’t blame him for taking the money from a team that could pose a big threat, especially in the weaker East.

  • theghostofjh

    I agree that he will go to Chicago, mainly for the big difference in money, and probably a bigger role on a contender. Otherwise I think he’d come because I think he loves all the players on our team, and we’re probably the favorire going into next season for a title. But I don’t see any meaningful weaknesses in Pau. One of the most versatile and professional bigs over the last 20 years.

  • Ryan McShane

    I don’t think Chris Bosh cares about being on a stacked team at this point. Miami will not be a contender next year. Sure, they’ll probably make the playoffs because the East is so awful, but they’re not going to go further than the second round with Indiana, Cleveland, Atlanta, and Washington having something to say about it.

  • theghostofjh

    “I don’t think Chris Bosh cares about being on a stacked team at this point.”

    Indeed, and yet this has been fairly rare of late for big-time NBA stars. But Bosh rejected the temptation to go to a stacked team (Houston), and that’s why I said “good for Bosh”.

    ” … but they’re not going to go further than the second round … ”

    Probably not, but I wouldn’t write them off yet.