Summer outlook: An all-you-need-to-know guide to the Spurs’ offseason

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It’s been one week since the Spurs’ heartbreaking Game 7 loss in the Finals, and now it’s time to put the pain in the rearview mirror. Some of you have moved on while, undoubtedly, some of you have not. Which is understandable, because that was about as brutal an ending as you’ll likely experience.

But life goes on, and in accordance with it, so does the NBA’s offseason. Despite an ever-aging core, San Antonio has a chance to return to the promised land in 2013-14. It’s going to take some smart decision-making and perhaps a little creativity, but those are two attributes the Spurs’ front office has in spades.

As we move farther and farther into the new age of the current collective bargaining agreement — this will be the third offseason under its textual guidance — we’ll begin to see its effects on a larger scale. With the incoming impact of the new luxury tax rate and the ensuing escalating penalty for repeat taxpayers, long-term frugality is going to be paramount for teams without bottomless pockets and endless revenue streams. (The new CBA was designed with small-market success in mind, but for the most part, teams in major markets will be the only ones able to realistically sustain consecutive years of tax payments.)

The Spurs have always been intently aware of their standing in relation to the luxury-tax threshold, so adapting to the new rules shouldn’t be a terrible issue for a group that has practiced brilliant cap management for nearly two decades. But what should be a concern, to some degree at least, is how other teams decide to approach the situation. San Antonio has two restricted free agents in Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal, so their futures essentially depend on the initial actions of other teams, some with not-so-glamorous track records.

But we’re moving into different times in the NBA. There’s a greater movement toward analytics and, if you believe the new CBA will ultimately be effective, more responsible spending. Of course, the fabric of this league is sewn from the threads of past insane contracts and gaudy payrolls, so only time will tell if general managers and those who advise them have actually gotten smarter.

 

The Manu Ginobili conundrum

San Antonio has finally come to its first true crossroads of the Big 3 era. And not surprisingly, the directional decision involves the future of the team’s awkwardly physical dynamo, Manu Ginobili. One of the most popular players in Spurs franchise history, Manu’s future seemed cloudy at best during an NBA Finals run in which he was historically bad at times. Despite vintage brilliance in Game 5, it was his ugly performance in Game 6 and his fourth-quarter turnovers in Game 7 that left the most bitter taste for those used to seeing postseason excellence from Numero Veinte.

Where Tim Duncan’s performance during the 2011-12 season left few doubters in his ability to return for another effective season, this city is split nearly down the middle in fan support for Ginobili. The $14.1 million he made last season probably doesn’t sit right to some, but if we’re keeping things in perspective that isn’t really a terrible number. Manu had some great games against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals two seasons ago, and $14 million for a guy in the final year of his contract with a team that had neither roster space nor the dire need to utilize extra cash wasn’t a bad deal. You can view it that way if you’d like, given his performance for the most part over the course of the season, but hindsight is always 20/20. He was quite good in 2011-12, and missing his predicted decline by less than a year is pretty darn impressive.

But with Ginobili now coming off the books, the Spurs have a great chance to clear significant cap space whether they re-sign him or not. At more than $19 million, Manu’s cap hold is looming large. San Antonio can either renounce his rights or re-sign him to a new, cheaper contract, which seems to be the most likely scenario. At least, if he gets his way.

And let’s be clear: the Ginobili of old will never be back. The herky-jerky, blurry first step is gone, and the legs aren’t there underneath the jumper the way they used to be. But I believe (prior to the turnovers in the fourth) his Game 7 performance is indicative of how effective he can be moving forward. His passing, ball-handling and selective scoring are still invaluable to the Spurs’ bench, he just has to realize that he can’t function as wildly as he once could.

I believe it’s an insult to the intellect of Ginobili to say he can’t change the way he plays. Sometimes it takes a while to realize the old way doesn’t work anymore. We’ll probably see Manu in San Antonio for at least another year, and maybe two. After all, that would mean his contract would expire at the same time as Duncan’s player option and Tony Parker’s current deal at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Quite fitting, I’d say.

There’s more to come later in the article on the Manu front.

What to do with Tiago Splitter

To preface, this scenario is one in which the Spurs decide they’d like to try and re-sign Splitter.

Perhaps the highest level of drama surrounding San Antonio this summer is the current status of restricted free agent Tiago Splitter. Which, you know, sure speaks to the Spurs’ flair for the dramatic. The Brazilian big man’s season ended quite unceremoniously against a Heat team that ate him alive, but his presence in the starting lineup elevated San Antonio’s defense to a top-3 position throughout the regular season and through most of the postseason.

Splitter’s pick-and-roll offensive strengths were a perfect match for a team that utilizes the play more than any other squad in the NBA, and his improvement on the defensive side of the ball meant great things for the aging Duncan. With Splitter in the fold, Timmy could spend more time off the ball, patrolling the paint rather than banging bodies with his lighter frame throughout the course of a game. No doubt it played a part in Duncan’s resurgence this season, and it has allowed for greater longevity from the future Hall-of-Famer. Despite a poor Finals performance, Splitter was great in the opening round against the Lakers and in the Western Conference Finals against the Grizzlies, two teams with dominant low-post players. He allowed San Antonio to defend the paint and still operate at the offensive pace they desired.

But against Miami, the story changed. Splitter was overwhelmed by the quickness and speed of the Heat, and the defensive swarm he felt early in each game had a significant impact on his psyche. It all became too fast, and by Game 5 he had been supplanted in the starting lineup by Ginobili (he was pulled for Gary Neal 47 seconds into Game 4 when the Heat started small, as well). It remains to be seen whether or not his Finals fallout hurt his value on the open market, but it’s safe to say it didn’t help it.

The Spurs can submit a qualifying offer to Splitter of just less than $5 million by June 30, after which time any team in the league with cap space may offer a contract of their own. If another team makes an offer — which will almost assuredly happen — San Antonio will have three days to match the signed offer sheet. It is believed that Splitter would like to remain a Spur, and it appears the team would like to retain him for the right price, but it’s going to be interesting to watch and see exactly how much money Splitter might command and how much the Spurs will be willing to match.

With the new CBA in mind, this process will be an interesting one. Splitter is a very specialized big man with no real elite-level skills. He’s very good in the pick and roll, but a big man’s ability to roll to the basket does not hold the same level of importance as, say, shot-blocking, rebounding and scoring. Tiago is excellent within the Spurs’ system, but you can’t really dump it to him in the post or count on him to put up double-doubles on a nightly basis. San Antonio wants him back, because losing him for nothing would be potentially devastating without a replacement in line (other than Aron Baynes, who is no more than a prospect at this point).

In the past, big men have demanded, on average, larger contracts than they likely deserve at times. After all, it’s much more difficult to find quality, skilled 7-footers than it is wing players and point guards. It’s just science. There are fewer giant human beings in this world than average-sized players (by NBA standards), so when you locate the ones who can put one foot in front of the other, catch the ball, score around the basket and play a little defense, all while being at least decently athletic, typically you’re going to pay up.

But with the threat of the escalating rates for repeat luxury taxpayers imminent under the law of the new CBA, it’s likely we’ll start seeing shorter contracts. Instead of the 4- and 5-year deals that often seem to hamstring franchises, we’ll probably be looking at more contracts of the 2- and 3-year variety. Similar dollar signs might be there, but teams aren’t going to let these deals cripple their futures any longer. The smart ones won’t, at least. Splitter is skilled, make no mistake about it. But, again, he lacks an elite-level skill that so often commands top dollar.

San Antonio is shedding salary heading into this offseason with the likely Ginobili pay-cut and the elimination of Stephen Jackson’s $10 million contract (remember that one?). So they’ll have an ample amount of cash to throw at Splitter, if it’s a reasonable amount in their eyes. Before, I’ve been quite hesitant toward any thought of a potential offer that nears the eight-figure ($10 million or more) mark for Tiago, but looking forward, it all depends.

Splitter, at 28 years old, is nearing the magic age of 30, which means it’s not likely he’ll be offered a lengthy contract that would spill over years into his 30’s. Let’s say Portland offers Splitter a 3-year deal (sources have said the Trail Blazers are interested) for more money than San Antonio would prefer to pay.  The Spurs have done an excellent job setting up their financial future, and if they decided to match a Splitter offer sheet and backload the contract (a fairly standard practice), they’d be paying Tiago the largest portion of his salary when they have the most cap space available.

As the Spurs currently stand, only two players — Kawhi Leonard and Cory Joseph — are under contract for the 2015-16 season, and those are just options at this point. Leonard will almost assuredly have already signed an extension by that time, probably for something close to a max deal, but the fact of the matter is San Antonio has a ton of cap flexibility moving forward after the Duncan/Ginobili era ends. Even paying Splitter a bit more than he’s worth wouldn’t be the end of the world, so long as the contract isn’t too long. In the mean time, it isn’t like this team is trying to free up a ton of cap space anyway in the next year or two (especially if they decide to bring the band back together again). But if Duncan and Manu both hang it up after next season, then we’re talking about a whole new thing altogether.

For a team that came so very close to winning a fifth title, losing Splitter and not finding a legitimate replacement would probably do much more harm to the Spurs and their frontcourt than overpaying him would. Unless he receives a completely outrageous offer (which, after his Finals performance and given his age, I doubt), I’d expect the Spurs to match whatever sheet he signs. Despite his age, Splitter is still improving, and it has been evident over the course of the last couple of years. He’s close to or at his ceiling by now, but as the roster is presently constituted, San Antonio would be best suited to bring him back, unless they locate a better option.

 

Who wants to get them some more Gary Neal action?

One of the most enigmatic Spurs in recent memory has reached restricted free agency after three years with the team, but exactly what the demand is for Gary Neal remains to be seen. The inconsistent San Antonio bench scorer has had his ups and downs, which were more Everest-like peaks and trench-like valleys than crests and troughs of a wave. And his Finals performance was indicative of these sort of tendencies. On one hand, he was essentially nonexistent during off nights, only serving as a backup body that must be accounted for. And yet, the reason the defense couldn’t afford to lose him was because of what he did in Game 3.

Neal had a down year in comparison to his first three seasons in the league, drawing the ire of many Spurs fans along the way. But in one great game, on a night in which he hit six 3-pointers on his way to 24 points, Neal might have earned himself a payday San Antonio may not be willing to match.

But before we get ahead of ourselves in that regard, we must note that Neal has definitely been a bargain over the length of his contract. Even his cap hold — just more than $1.1 million if the Spurs decide to make a qualifying offer — is totally manageable for now. The question becomes: How much are teams willing to pay a 28-year-old fresh off his worst season as a professional (despite his one great Finals game)?

I’d say, in the interest of continuity and depth, so long as the price is reasonable the Spurs should pay to bring him back. Now, what’s reasonable? Considering that Danny Green’s contract has him right around $3.5 million, I don’t think you pay Neal more than a salary within the $2-3 million range. Many would likely argue even that’s too much, but when he’s right, Neal can be a major factor. His skill set is replicable to an extent, but there’s a certain I-don’t-give-a-crap mentality that can be invaluable at times. It can also be detrimental, but he’s certainly not afraid of the big stage. That’s not something that can necessarily be taught.

If you can get him on the cheap, he’s worth having around.

 

Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw: Complements or casualties?

Matt Bonner and Boris Diaw both have statuses currently up in the air, though they’re each operating under different circumstances. Diaw has a player option worth north of $4.7 million while Bonner is under contract for nearly $4 million himself, but his salary is not guaranteed for next season. The Spurs can decline their team option on the 33-year-old sharpshooter if they please, and Bonner also remains one of the only amnesty options left on San Antonio’s roster. (If they decline his option, they’ll still owe him $1 million next year, but if they use the amnesty provision, his contract won’t count against the cap at all. He’ll still get paid, but his salary will be off the books.)

Both of these bigs offer very unique skill sets for their position. Diaw is essentially a point guard in the frontcourt and is one of the most creative players you’ll ever see, and Bonner is an elite shooter from the 3-point line at the four position. So both have value if they are to return at their current rates. But there were certainly times this season and during the playoffs when one of these guys hardly saw the floor from game to game. Their presence offers the Spurs the chance to match up differently with specific opponents depending on individual matchups, but $4-5 million is still quite a bit of money to be paying a player that spends long stretches on the bench.

Diaw has yet to make a decision on his player option, and while it’s a decent amount of change, at this point in his career he could be more interested in looking for a little less money right away if it means a longer contract (think Richard Jefferson). Who knows? But let’s say he does exercise his option and return to San Antonio for one more year. The Spurs are in no danger at this point of crossing the luxury-tax line (which is predicted to be set at just more than $71 million), and if they are interested in keeping a nearly title-winning roster intact, Diaw’s contract won’t do any damage to their bottom line.

(Patty Mills was the other Spur with a player option going into the postseason, and he exercised it quicker than you could swing a towel at.)

But let’s just say for a moment that the Spurs aren’t interested in another conservative approach. What if they don’t think they can win title No. 5 with this team that got oh so close to doing it? The Big 3’s window is shrinking by the year, and it’s difficult to expect another All-NBA First Team Duncan and Second-Team Parker. And what if Manu’s wheels have finally come off? If that’s the case, this team is going to need some help against the rest of the rising NBA stars.

So…

 

How the Spurs can make their biggest splash

As I wrote earlier, the way this team has managed its cap situation is nothing short of brilliant. The Spurs have the capability to bring back nearly the entire group that would likely once again be among the league’s best, but, on the other hand, they’ve put themselves in a position where they can bring significant help to the Alamo City. Hell, at a certain expense, it’s not impossible to free up enough cap space for a maximum contract heading into 2013-14. Though that is quite unlikely. The possibilities are there, but again, it would take great creativity and a high level of risk to pull off a move we’re not exactly accustomed to seeing out of this franchise.

Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Spurs don’t have much time left with their Hall-of-Fame trio. They’ve given themselves the flexibility, so perhaps it’s time to go for it. Maybe through good fortune, health and exceptional improvement from role players they can make yet another run, but it’s a very difficult proposition for a team whose stars are on the brink of retirement. The years take their toll, and without reinforcements San Antonio will be up against it.

If the Spurs do intent to take the high-risk, high-reward route, the sequence will soon be initiated. And it all starts with Splitter and Ginobili.

Most of the offseason chatter has been about the narrative surrounding these two players. And while the popular (and conservative) opinion seems to be that San Antonio must re-sign Splitter, that might not be the best course of action. It’s the safest, but likely not the best. As I outlined above, Tiago is a restricted free agent, and his cap hold is worth nearly $7.5 million. In order to clear that hold, the Spurs must re-sign him or let him go. In this high-risk scenario, we’re going to proceed with the latter in mind.

In this scenario, we’re going to renounce Splitter’s rights. No qualifying offer. No waiting out the restricted free-agency period. Nothing.

By not signing a qualifying offer, Splitter would immediately become an unrestricted free agent. And by letting him go, the Spurs would waive their Bird rights — or Larry Bird exception — and their ability to exceed the salary cap in order to sign him. Without Splitter’s cap hold and on top of Jackson’s big expiring contract, San Antonio would potentially have the cap space to pursue Tiago in free agency at a later point, but that’s not a road that typically has a happy ending.

“Hey Tiago, we’re going to renounce your rights and let you go in free agency. We’re going to use the money we got from your cap hold to pursue another player, but if we’re unsuccessful we’re going to come back to you and pay up after all. Cool? We good? Wanna hang out?”

But I digress. There’s more that must happen for this scenario to play out this way, and a ton of it depends on how much money Ginobili takes if he indeed returns for another season. Again, Manu’s cap hold of more than $19 million is crippling until that contractual situation is ironed out, and given his play it’s unlikely he’ll even see half of the $14 million he earned in 2012-13. For argument’s sake, let’s say San Antonio comes to terms with a $5 million deal in the near future (and that might even be generous). Couple that with Jack’s expiring and Splitter’s renounced rights, and the Spurs are looking at a pretty decent chunk of change.

If, in addition to these results, San Antonio decides to let Neal and DeJuan Blair go while the rest of the roster’s contract situations stay the same with a predicted salary cap of $58.5 million, the Spurs would be looking at nearly $11 million in cap space.

So, to summarize this scenario:

  • Stephen Jackson (already gone), Tiago Splitter (renounced rights or lost in RFA), Gary Neal (renounced rights or lost in RFA) and DeJuan Blair (not re-signed) are no longer with the Spurs.
  • Manu Ginobili accepts a contract worth $5 million (total guess) for 2013-14.
  • San Antonio would have roughly $11 million to spend in free agency, taking $893,500 rookie wage from 28th pick into account.

Ah, but it can get better. Crazier, but better.

I described the situations surrounding Diaw and Bonner a bit earlier. They’re both different in the sense that one is under the team’s control (Bonner) while the other can decide whether or not he wants to spend the next year in San Antonio. Let’s say Diaw picks up the $4.7 million tab the Spurs would owe him (and who could blame the guy?). If San Antonio wants more than the $11 million in cap space to make roster changes, it’s quite conceivable that they part ways with the Red Rocket.

It would be so so so sad if this happened, for whatever that’s worth.

Because of the good standing Bonner has with this organization, I could see the Spurs using the amnesty clause in this situation. If they simply declined his option, they’d still be on the hook for $1 million, which would count against the cap. If they amnesty him, he’d get his full salary and the total value would be off the books.

So, on top of the earlier scenario, if Diaw opted in for the $4.7 million and the Spurs decided to amnesty Bonner, San Antonio would be looking at nearly $15 million in cap space. Again, this would mean (Jack), Splitter, Neal, Blair and Bonner would all be gone. Which would leave the Spurs with 10 active players pre-draft. With that kind of cap space, a rookie draft, the mid-level exception available and the inclusion of veteran minimum contracts, San Antonio wouldn’t have much of a problem filling that roster out. Ten players would be more than enough of a starting point if they want to devote most of that $15 million to one player.

But hey, while we’re at it, wanna get a little more crazy?

First of all, if Diaw decides to opt out and leave the Spurs with nearly $5 million in extra spending money, well yippidy doo da. If this does happen, I doubt San Antonio would part ways with Bonner. It’d be tough to lose both of those players after also renouncing Splitter’s rights. If Diaw decides to move on and the Spurs keep Bonner, they’d be looking at more than $15 million in cap room.

Now, what if Diaw opts in but San Antonio decides it doesn’t want him? NBA contracts are obviously guaranteed, so even waiving the guy wouldn’t make things any better financially. Unless, that is, you take advantage of the loopholes.

The collective bargaining agreement allows for what’s called a “stretch provision” for teams that want to cut a player it doesn’t want on its roster. (Geez, the NBA is great. There are so many ways to get out of crappy contracts and relationships with underperforming players, no wonder GMs have been inclined to offer ridiculous money in the first place.) This clause allows for a team to waive a player and stretch his remaining salary over the span of several years. To be exact, said team can take the remaining length of the contract of a waived player, multiply it by two and add a year. It can then spread out its payments evenly over that time span.

In the case of Diaw, if the Spurs were to utilize this provision, they’d only have to pay the man $1,567,500 per year over the next three seasons. If they choose to keep Bonner and waive Diaw (probably a slim chance), they’d be looking at a little more than $14 million in cap space. However, if San Antonio wants to part ways with both big men (Bonner via declined team option and Diaw via “stretch provision”), would $18 million below the salary cap and nine players on the pre-draft roster sound good? And what about if the Spurs decline Bonner and Diaw opts out? That would give San Antonio more than $19.5 million in cap space and essentially enough to offer a max contract at worst.

Clearly this is pushing the limits of sanity for which the Spurs are so notoriously known, but I do feel we must summarize:

  • Remember: 
    • Stephen Jackson (already gone), Tiago Splitter (renounced rights or lost in RFA), Gary Neal (renounced rights or lost in RFA) and DeJuan Blair (not re-signed) are no longer with the Spurs.
    • Manu Ginobili accepts a contract worth $5 million (total guess) for 2013-14.
    • Rest of roster remains intact ($11 million to spend in free agency)
  • Diaw opts in for $4.7 million/Spurs amnesty Bonner (just under $15 million in cap space)
  • Diaw opts out/Spurs exercise team option on Bonner (just over $15 million in cap space)
  • Spurs use “stretch” provision on Diaw/Spurs exercise team option on Bonner ($14 million)
  • Diaw opts out/Spurs amnesty Bonner (or waive) ($19.5 million in cap space ($18.5 million))

 

Manu’s financial situation is key here. I’ve based this whole scenario around the $5 million mark, but that’s a relatively arbitrary number. If he accepts less, that’s huge for San Antonio. But we have no idea how that situation will pan out.

Again, these are pretty extreme scenarios, but the possibilities are there. San Antonio has left itself with some pretty unbelievable flexibility in terms of what product it can put on the floor for the 2013-14 season. Heading into the offseason with just nine players (draft picks not included) is far from ideal, and it just doesn’t seem plausible to part ways with so many frontcourt players.

But when it comes to Splitter, the decision will be an interesting one. This from Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford:

“I can’t tell you what the interest in the market is. In principle, nobody is allowed to express interest until July 1. I think we approach every decision we make, here (are) our opportunities with Tiago, here (are) our alternatives, and what are the opportunity costs that go along with either signing and keeping Tiago or facing the alternatives.

 

“He’s been a big part of our success. Until we know what the market says and how that impacts our planning for the future, you can’t answer one with incomplete information. But he’s been a great fit for both our team and our culture.

 

“You guys have seen it. He’s a great team player. He has been a great fit for us, culturally. I think his passing, his movement on the perimeter as a screener and a roller is superior. He’s not at a point where I think that he’s going to command a double-team in the post, and you’d love to see that develop, but I’m not sure it’s fair to put him in that position. And you’ve got to evaluate a cost for what that is.”

Buford provided a great perspective on what Splitter has meant to this franchise, especially over the last year. He’s been important to San Antonio’s success, not just as an on-court presence, but as an all-important locker-room piece that fits in with the team’s persona. But, at 28 years old, he is what he is. Judging by these quotes, the Spurs don’t seem interested in overpaying for the guy if they believe there are better options out there. One thing I did not outline was the potential for a sign-and-trade, but it’s so difficult to explore any possibilities without knowing who’s interested and what San Antonio could possibly get in return.

There are reports of San Antonio’s interest in Houston Rockets’ forward Thomas Robinson, though we have not heard who the Spurs are dangling. Robinson was a previous Sacramento lottery pick, but he has yet to even come close to proving himself at the NBA level. The potential is theoretically there, but at this point it’s a bit of a crapshoot. He made his mark at the collegiate level as a physical, decently athletic rebounding presence at the forward position, something San Antonio could certainly use in a youthful body. We’ll have to see how this unfolds.

Another aspect of this offseason I did not address to any extent is the draft, but speculation over who the Spurs are interested in and gauging the kind of interest they might have in moving up is nearly impossible with this team given its secretive nature. Still, with an underwhelming draft stock and the potential cost of moving up to a position that would produce a questionably worthwhile bounty would seemingly necessitate action in the free-agent market regardless. San Antonio must win now, and considering what they’d have to give away to make a significant move up in the draft order, the return might not be worth the effort.

But who knows? Maybe there’s some interest from outside in Spurs overseas prospects, and perhaps the difference in someone like Danny Green or Tiago Splitter and an overlooked incoming rookie could put this team in a more competitive place. But I doubt it. For a group that wants to win right now, it’s far more probable that it would be an established player alongside the San Antonio stalwarts that would put the Spurs over the top. Still, San Antonio has worked its magic in the past. It wouldn’t be a shock to see it conjure up yet another trick.

Time is running short for the longtime triumvirate of players that has brought so much success spring after spring, summer after summer to this town. As Duncan, Parker and Ginobili near the finish line, the chances at another title grow slimmer and slimmer. They need help, and if the Spurs decide to bring most everyone back, they’ll have access to mid-level players (and depending on their final cap situation, several million dollars in mid-level exception money) and veterans looking to possibly ride with Timmy for one last run. But with what potentially exists in free agency, due diligence would benefit San Antonio during this pivotal moment.

With players like Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Andre Iguodala and Josh Smith (and the pie-in-the-sky possibility of Dwight Howard) looming on the market, The Spurs might be tempted to take a risk in order to cement one last hurrah. They’ll be competitive either way, but as the league grows more dangerously youthful by the moment, the likelihood of replicating last season’s success is dwindling.

The Spurs are rumored to have made a promise to Virginia Tech guard Erick Green, the leading scorer in the NCAA who’s great at pushing the pace in transition. Tough to say at this point, but he’s the type of guy that could give this team the extra boost it needs behind the overloaded Parker in the backcourt. But again, rookies, especially in this draft, are far from a sure thing.

If San Antonio takes a swing at it but strikes out, at least they know, with a little good luck they could be right there at the top once again. And if ever there’s a team capable of defying odds and taking advantage of opportunities the rest of the league may afford it, it’s this one.

But if they take a high-risk chance in search of the ultimate reward, and the Spurs connect? Well, last week’s fall in Miami may not have been San Antonio’s final stand.

 

Update: The Spurs drafted Livio Jean-Charles with the 28th overall pick in last night’s draft. LJC (as I’m going to be calling him) is from Cayenne, French Guiana and is currently playing for L’ASVEL Lyon-Villeurbanne, the team Tony Parker has stake in. He’ll likely remain overseas, but when it comes to signing the guy, it’s going to help that Parker is one of the team’s owners. In the mean time, his nearly $900K cap hold for a rookie contract from the 28th pick is now lifted, giving the Spurs a little extra money to operate in free agency.

Another rumor from last night — one that was actually reported by the New York Daily News — was that Brett Brown was hired as Philadelphia’s new head coach. R.C. Buford said after the draft that folks were jumping the gun on this, and it turns out he was right. As of right now, Brown has not been hired by anyone, but is still very much active in the interview process.

 

Thanks to Tim Varner for his contributions and explorations into the salary cap situations for this piece.

  • Titletown99030507d

    He’s too old and asking for too much money and would want to play significant minutes. No way he gets that here. Plus he’s slow at his age and is he a great defender? No way. Not here.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I think pop would like this finals back that’s why he’s not throwing anyone under the bus.. If we are one rebound away or one free throw away from a title and paying what Splitter wants then why can’t do it again with what they got. Sure get a big and we’ll solidify our chances.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Well then go get your 14 million dollar man. Good luck with that.

  • Titletown99030507d

    No I read it and understood it. BS.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Still feel Jackson would have made a difference. We can’t have milk and cookies in the locker room and expect to win a title.

  • Titletown99030507d

    And that’s why it’s better to resign Slpitter or what? Get someone that’s exactly the same for the money. So why bother to do that when Tiago already knows the system and now you have to wait to see if that person will be able to play within the system. Blair is already gone, Bonner is not helping any, Baynes is just to inexperienced for the NBA or this team’s system. It will take him to grow in this system for the next few years and reach some sort of plateau. Do we have that luxury to wait? Not if we are doing this for Timmy, and Diaw well he’s not getting any better and he surely can’t defend Howard or Gasol like Splitter can. By the way why isn’t Diaw shooting like he used to when he played for Phoenix. Because if we have him for passing the ball around we have PG’s for that and he doesn’t exactly scream great shot blocker or defender of the paint.

    Here’s the deal. We are going to end up with the same front court but without Blair and possibly Tiago. So you go out and get 1 big to replace him probably in the 10 million $ range like everybody wants. He’s either going to be a great shooter or great defender because right now you won’t be getting both for that money. (I hope I’m wrong) So that leaves Timmy,Bonner, Diaw, Baynes and Mystery man. Hope he can provide the quality screens to give any of his team mates good looks to the basket? Or timely rolls to the rim? And good defense in the post?

    We’ll looks like some of these fair weathered fans will get their wish if Tiago isn’t back.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I don’t blame DeColo for voicing his opinion. At least he’s got balls to tell pop he wants to play. In my book that counts for something. From what I saw he played well enough to play in the post season but you know pop if someone misses an assignment your blacklisted for the rest of the season or career. That man has no patience. And as for CJ I’m not impressed DeColo is a much better passer. But hey friends of the family err membership have it’s privileges.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Forgot pop. He loves himself some wine bottles. Is his nose ever red during the game? Ah makeup.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Timmy is not a drunk. When was the last time you saw a drunk on an NBA court and win 4 championship? Thought so.

  • Titletown99030507d

    I’m surprised no one is throwing Tony under the bus.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Bad knees, bad attitude, can’t score from the outside like dirk. That’s essentially what people are around here want. They want a dirk with a fro.

  • Titletown99030507d

    And if that happens you can still give Splitter his 7 million and go after a scoring wing or a another big. If they go for a scoring wing they better get Baynes ready to play and hopefully he doesn’t foul out int he first half.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Tiago can come off the bench with Manu. Those two will build chemistry. Tiago was way more productive offensively when came off the bench. Timmy and Jefferson could start but limit Timmy even more this season. He just seemed out of gas towards the end again. Icould never understand why pop played him big minutes all season long during games. Yeah he sat a few games but when he played he played a butt load of minutes. I would give the brunt of the minutes to Jefferson, Splitter, and Diaw and Baynes getting a lot more this coming season. Keeping Timmy fresh for playoffs is crucial for next season. I would hate to see his wheels finally come off come playoff time next season if pop plays him huge again.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Did you watch him this year? He looked pretty good to me. Skinny big men with length tend to age well (e.g. Tim Duncan) because they rely less on footspeed and strength (i.e. fast-twitch muscles) than others. Kirilenko’s per-36 numbers this year, like Tim’s, were right at his career average. And his abilities to guard multiple possession on switches and to pass so well to cutters would fit the Spurs’ schemes almost ideally. It’s not whether we can use him that’s the question. The question is whether we can afford him.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Hey, isn’t our second-round pick DeShaun Thomas the same guy who wouldn’t give us his phone number? Wow, he should really be thankful that R.C. doesn’t hold a grudge…

  • Tim in Surrey
  • Dr. Who

    Release Bonner? Really? They are in love with guy even after each playoff flame out. They picked up his option so the only was his 4MM come off the books is if they amnesty him. Doubt they will. Their bromance with the Red Mamba is about as confusing as it was with Finley. What nice is that the 4MM would be nice trade bait in an expiring contract should they actually plan to part ways with Bonner. Nice guy but he’s given the franchise nothing in the playoffs throughout his career. Much more upside as we saw in the playoffs with Diaw at the 4.

  • Daniel

    Good thoughts so far. In regards to a backup point guard, I saw yesterday that the Rockets released Aaron Brooks. He is actually a high quality player, except for being undersized. Living in Eugene, I saw him in his college years. He has a strong work ethic and high endurance level. He can cut to the basket, make sharp passes, and was even won the men’s three point shooting contest his senior year. He can be picked up cheap, and continue running the high octane style offense Parker runs in a second unit easily. The Spurs ought to jump on him ASAP.

  • Dr. Who

    Wow… Just when I thought I’d seen it all. I love the logic that this trade won’t happen because the FO “lacks the b@lls to make any sort of bold moves.” It wouldn’t have anything to do with the FO knowing how to run a team ad the poster being a guy on the internetz without GM experience :)

  • Dr. Who

    Agreed Ak47’s year wasn’t a banner one but not horrible either. I think he’d be a good fit in SA short term; but injury concerns would be a plenty.

  • Dr. Who

    Agreed, as much heat as Tiago gets 8MM is his market value. He’s a more complete player than offensive or defensive specialist bigs out there (see Jefferson/Asik) since he can at relatively good defense and decent enough on offense. He’s one of the better pick and roll bigs in th league. Luckily the Miami series capped his price tag a bit. He was instrumental in the Grizz series. His offer will most likely be between 8-10MM. You could get Asik for that same money but Tiago already knows the system etc. Spurs will most likely over pay for his services unless someone makes a stupid offer for him. FO will do pretty much everything they can to keep the roster in tact aside from a tweak here and there.

  • Dr. Who

    Interesting, it’s reported the Spurs are heavily going after Gortat in a S&T. Deal would involve either Tiago or Splitter. I guess they really don’t value Splitter. Since Gortat’s number is about 7MM that keeps them out of the Splitter bidding war and leaves then cap space next year and this year to bring someone else in. Very unexpected and very interesting… I may have to eat some crow as to what I thought would happen this offseason.

  • td4life

    I know. In my scenario, we’d cap out and then use the exception on the previously released Manu.

  • td4life

    Why not? Because he is our own player? What if we release our claim on him, removing his cap hold and then resign him later?

  • Tim in Surrey

    He’s not the same guy. He really hasn’t been since the Rockets dumped him before. I don’t know if it’s a confidence issue, or just health, but for the last couple of years he hasn’t been the quick, attacking player that he once was. There’s a reason Houston started Lin over him.

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