The ramifications of Tiago Splitter’s new 4-year, $36-million deal

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Tiago Splitter and the San Antonio Spurs have come to an agreement on a 4-year, $36 million deal, per Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski. With the deal — which will presumably be signed on July 10 — Splitter will be the only Spur under contract through the 2016-17 season.

Given how quickly this signing was made official, it’s safe to assume this was a number with which San Antonio was more than comfortable. Woj indicated the Portland Trail Blazers had strongly considered a $9 million offer sheet for Splitter, but that the Spurs were working through a deal of their own on Monday night heading into Tuesday. Essentially, that means when the Spurs heard the $9-million figure, they jumped at it and secured Tiago on their own before allowing the market to dictate his contract. (Or at least once they heard of Portland’s price range.) On a day the soon-to-be 33-year-old David West agreed to a 3-year, $36 million deal to stay with the Pacers, San Antonio’s 28-year-old center shook hands to stay in the River City for a year longer at the same long-term price.

Since no offer sheet was actually signed by the Trail Blazers, apparently, another team could conceivably swoop in and offer Splitter more money before July 9, but for now it appears Splitter will be a Spur for the next four years.

Whether you like it or not, this is the going rate for an above-average NBA big man. As has been discussed ad nauseum, 7-footers (Splitter is officially 6-foot-11) get premium dollars in this league, and the Spurs place a high amount of additional value on the fact that he’s been a part of their system for three years now. Continuity is very important to this franchise, as is cultural blending and systematic fits. The Spurs made it clear they wanted Splitter back, but also knew they had to evaluate the alternatives in case the price tag got too high for their taste. It appears they liked the flavor of this one, though.

The exact details of the contract have yet to be disclosed, so we don’t know whether this deal is front-loaded, back-loaded or flat over the course of the next four years. But for now we’ll just go by the $9-million per year rate as it’s outlined in the preliminary release of the agreement. We’ll also assume for now that Bonner’s contract, which stands at $3.95 million for the next year, will continue to count against the cap. He can’t be waived any longer, and the amnesty provision can’t be exercised until July 10. Furthermore, Manu Ginobili and Gary Neal have yet to be signed, so here we go…

To preface the following, Manu Ginobili’s current cap hold is worth a little more than $19.1 million, and Gary Neal’s is worth roughly $1.1 million. So, in actuality, the Spurs are significantly OVER the cap by roughly $10-plus million at this moment. In order to make things a bit clearer, I eliminated the cap holds in the next couple of paragraphs … so remember the cap space I have outlined is essentially there only for the purposes of re-signing Ginobili and Neal. Cap holds are in place until the player is let go or re-signed, so Manu’s and Gary’s deals must be completed in order for the cap space to become tangible. Hope that makes sense.

With now $9 million committed to Splitter for the 2013-14 season and Ginobili and Neal still waiting for their futures to officially be addressed, the Spurs are sitting at $7-8 million in cap space. Now, that number can change to $11-12 million if San Antonio does decide to amnesty Bonner, but that might not be necessary. (Remember, I removed cap holds from the equation, so that cap space is essentially reserved for Ginobili and Neal only, not another team’s free agent(s).)

Seeing that the Spurs are looking at $7-8 million to spend on Ginobili and Neal without using the amnesty provision on Matty, it’s entirely possible they utilize all their cap space in bringing the entire band back together. If they do stay over the cap by re-signing their own players, they’ll have access to the Mid-Level exception, which they would renounce the rights to if they fall below the salary cap. At this point, that might be the most effective way to use the dollars they have.

But then there’s the other route. If San Antonio wants to amnesty Bonner and reject any offers for Neal, the team would be looking at $11-12 million (keeping Manu’s cap hold in mind) to spend on Ginobili alone. We still have no idea where Manu sits in negotiations with the Spurs, but you’ve got to think the two sides have an idea on a number, or at least the amount of flexibility Ginobili is willing to afford. We’ve used a mark of about $5 million for Manu in the past here at 48 Minutes of Hell, so let’s stick with that.

Let’s say the Spurs and Ginobili agree two a deal worth $5 million annually, while at the same time letting Neal walk and amnestying (is this a word?) Bonner, they would then be left with $6-7 million in actual cap space. That’s not a ton more than the ~$5 million the MLE can offer if they remained over the salary cap, but it could mean the difference in attracting a significant contributor. (If Manu was to take, say, $3 million, then the Spurs would be sitting with $8-9 million in space and would really be in a good spot.) What’s perhaps even more attractive to the Spurs, if they fall far enough below the salary cap to use the room they have in free agency, is the fact they could then renounce their rights to the normal exceptions (Bi-Annual, Mid-Level, etc…) and instead choose to utilize the Room Mid-Level exception. That would give San Antonio an extra ~$2.6 million more to spend on top of the money saved by letting Bonner and Neal go. (Remember, the Room MLE money can’t be added to available cap space to form one contract offer. So if the Spurs have ~$7 million in space, they can’t add the ~$2.6 million to give them ~$9.6 million to spend on one player. It is a completely separate entity. That $2.6 million is the max a team can offer one player when using the exception. Also, the maximum length for this exception is a two-year contract, and teams can split this money to sign more than one player if they’d like.)

So, even with the $9 million now committed to Splitter, the Spurs still have options in front of them with a chance to be hugely productive. Do you bring the entire group back together and utilize the full MLE, or do you maximize cap space and then put the Room MLE to use? We’ll have to wait and see. And while the 4-year, $36-million numbers might look a little intimidating, such is life in the NBA. San Antonio has managed its cap space beautifully, and this kind of contract should not hinder them much, if at all, going forward.

Once Splitter was inserted into the starting lineup alongside Tim Duncan, the Spurs’ defense soared to heights it hadn’t seen since the title-winning days. Now, he has a chance to be a staple in San Antonio as this team moves closer to the next chapter in franchise history.


  • David Salazar

    well, it went about as expected.

  • Bobby Finn

    Maybe I’m a softy but I want another shot with this group and I believe the FO can make that happen while not hindering post-Timmy. Stoked.

  • STIJL

    Knew Tiago would be commanding as much. Like stated “this is the going rate for an above-average NBA big man”

    Question I have is….if another team could be pursuaded in a sign and trade with one of their big men who might be better suited to play for the Spurs while Splitter better suited to play for that team?

    If not (or that does not happen) for what it’s worth….not a bad deal for Tiago and the Spurs if he were to remain as currently reported.

    The left over money could still land a quality player to fill the gaps of need.

  • idahospur

    I half expected some team to offer around $12M/year for Splitter so I guess this was reasonable. Looking at the Oden/AK47 rumors, I was curious to see if the Spurs were willing to take on those contracts at avoiding letting Miami having those players.
    I expect Manu to sign on after the rest gets taken care of. If we use the rest of the cap on another player (or split with Neal), would the MLE be used for Manu?

  • idahospur

    I guess now the Spurs could make that Gortat deal now that Splitter is signed? I thought that deal was a bit overpriced (Splitter/Diaw/1st rounder for Gortat).

  • Paul Aemron

    Splitter averaged 6 pts / 3 rebs in playoffs

    5 pts / 2 rebs in Finals.

    Popovich lost so much faith in Splitter as the playoffs wore on he only gave him 8 minutes in Game 6 of the Finals and 4 minutes in Game 7. Can’t think he was the driving force behind this signing.

    After watching Popovich coach the Finals – have to maybe think he has mentally checked out and Spurs expect him to hang it up very soon.

  • Graham

    Splitter was quite solid in the runup to the finals. Blaming him for not measuring up to Heat Smallball is disingenuous. 9 mil is a reasoanle offer for a guy who’s worth more to us than any other team, considering Portland was going to try and nab him for that.

    As for Pop, he was 1 made free throw or rebound away from such viewpoints being ludicrous. His schemes stymied the greatest player on earth for 4 games, and had a team everyone wrote off as ‘too old’ on the closest cusp imaginable from a championship. Hell, he basically completely dismantled a Memphis team that popular opinion said ‘had our number.’ I SERIOULSY doubt Pop is ‘mentally checked out’.

  • Graham

    Truth is there’s not a team out there that would be both a good fit and has worthwhile assets to trade back. Splitter for DeAndre Jordan would be stupid, Pekovic is a Fee Agent, the Cavs wouldn’t be interested and the Nets have a good center already. Did I miss any other teams? All the others I can think of are poor fits.

  • Bry

    I’m not delighted with the contract, but I’m not horrified by it either. The primary thing that bugs me about Splitter (apart from him refusing to simply go strong to the basket and draw a foul instead of trying to reverse or finesse and getting blocked) is the lack of minutes. And I’m not just judging him on the small-ball finals. He had 12mpg his rookie season, 19mpg his sophmore, and 24mpg this year. Those are definitely ‘rotation player’ minutes. But, they are not ‘starter’ minutes. Now that he is a solid free-throw shooter (73% this past year), makes a hefty salary, and has proven that he can play well alongside Timmy, he needs to play enough minutes to earn his new salary… and he’s GOT to draw fouls when he does. Part of the reason you start two 6’11” guys is that you can quickly get the other team’s bigs in foul trouble, and get your team in the bonus for longer stretches of each quarter (and, yes, I know that Tiago got raped on a number of occasions during the early rounds of the playoffs and he didn’t get the call). He’s getting starter money now. He’s a vet big man in his prime, playing alongside the best PF in history. And he’ll likely get starter minutes this year (high 20s/low 30s?). So, he’s gotta play like a starter on a championship-caliber team. C’mon, Tiago. Make Buford look like a genius again….

  • Bob Sacamano

    Not cheap, not expensive though would’ve preferred a Millsap chase. Question is, when he has an off game or bad matchup do they get a good enough wing to play small well? Or do they get another big (Gortat!) to stay big well?

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  • Graham

    After the Richard Jefferson debacle I’m fine with the conservative approach and going with a known commodity. Who knows how any potential big integrates with our system. With Tiago at least we know he is quite comfortable in it.

    We definitely should go for a 2nd wing. SF is a very shallow position for us right now, and us trying some more small lineups with Kawhi at the 4 if matchups dictate is something I’d like to see.

  • Daniel

    I still say the Spurs should go after Aaron Brooks for point.He would fit the system well, doing everything a Spur does, and he can be picked up for a small price tag, meaning there is still money left to go for one more big.

  • STIJL

    Got a feelin’ that will happen next year. Seems to be a pre-cursor to nba players that when they are low on the financial spectrum of a team they are also low at getting respect from officiating. We’ll see. It definately will do Tiago and the Spurs well if he improves in some areas before next season.

  • Titletown99030507d

    PATFO will never do that deal. You would need 1 season to acclimate Gortat to the system and with Timmy.
    They just dont have the time anymore. And is Gortat better at setting up his team mates for shot opportunities with his screens than Splitter. I think not.

  • STIJL

    I hear what you’re saying…but would prefer a solid backup at the 1/2 position more so than the 3. Green and Ginobili can adequately handle slop duty there. The Spurs have no true backup PG for Tony.

  • STIJL

    I would entertain a sign and trade scenario for Pekovic. Splitter would fit well in Minnesota. That is about the only scenario I would think benefits both teams. But in digressing, history would state it would not happen.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Agreed. Can’t wait for next season! I have been saying it for 3 seasons that Tiago is a type of player that needs large minutes to get going on a roll. That’s just the way he rolls. Sorry but it’s true. The good thing is if he does get big minutes you’ll see an even more productive Tiago.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Is Gortat that great of a defensive stopper against small ball?

  • Titletown99030507d

    What affordable wings are out there that are decent? A bonafide scorer/lane penetrator if we could get one with the leftovers would be not only nice but a miracle.

    What’s Casspi demanding these days since he’s a free agent?

  • Titletown99030507d

    I guess I”ll go ahead and order my #22 Spurs Jersey now. I just hope these guys don’t trade him tomorrow. Maybe I’ll wait till the regular season starts. Nah I’ll take my chances.

  • junierizzle

    I know some wanted Manu and Tiago out because of their lack-luster Finals. But both were still critical in even getting to the Finals. Despite the bad Finals for both SPurs were still 5 secs away from winning the whole thing. I ain’t mad at Splitter coming back.

  • timmyisagod

    I was surprised that the Spurs did not pick him up as insurance when he was waived by the Kings.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Omri Casspi, Marco Belinelli, Derrick Fisher (cheap), Dorell Wright, JR Smith, Randy Foye, Rodrique Beaubois, and Corey Brewer (if he hasn’t already been swooped up by the Hawks) to name a few that are available. Brooks is a good pick as well. We need a scorer and a slasher. For the wing I’d like to have Belinelli (that is if the hawks go ahead and nab Korver instead) or JR Smith. For the PG I would love for the Spurs to get Beaubois if he’s healthy.

  • Bob Sacamano

    I like Barnes, Garcia or Delfino as cheap backup sf’s. There was mention of a Diaw/1st rounder for Gortat trade, you’d do it in a heartbeat but would say its unlikely now. Rumours of Chauncey make sense if he were cheap and healthy – a floor spacer who create enough to take some pressure of Manu w the second unit, to me that was his problem in the finals.

  • Bry

    I didn’t want them ‘out’ just for the sake of getting rid of them (I’ve always thought the ‘let’s dump Blair/whomever for NOTHING cuz I’m frustrated’ crew was obnoxious), but I also didn’t want to pay them a bunch of money for limited or negative production. They didn’t earn it big money with their performances. And it wasn’t just the Finals. It culminated there, but both disappointed basically for the entire playoffs. Look at their numbers throughout the Spurs 21 playoff games, and then look at how much they earned last year, and will likely earn over the next couple of seasons. They’ve GOT to have better numbers to justify their salaries, no matter how much corporate knowledge and sentimental value they have. I mean, SA basically played an extremely close finals against a monster opponent with TWO guys either disappeared or actively HURTING the team. It’s amazing how well SA played in the playoffs and that they nearly won the title in 6 games (without homecourt advantage) with almost no production from two key players.

  • spursBball2

    HI Matthew. I’m just wondering about a few things regarding the cap. If we don’t amnesty Bonner, and take into account splitter’s salary next year (call it 8.5 mil), renounce manu’s cap hold, shouldn’t we have around 8 mil to play with?

    Also, could we not sign someone, like a Kirilenko, for around 7 mil, and then use the remainder and then some to go over the cap with Gary Neal (who has Bird Rights). At which point, being over the cap, we can use the MLE on Manu?

    Is this doable?

  • David G

    That’s one awful list. Spurs should just stick with Joseph and Nando if those are the alternatives

  • John T.

    I wouldn’t even speculate on the ramifications until July 10 when he is signed officially. I kind of think that as players fall of the list especially big men that at least one GM will panic or indeed want Splitter and offer something in the $10-11 million over 4 years. I also don’t think in any situation it makes sense to big against yourself. No one has even offered Splitter a contract so now another team could wait toward the end offer more money and with no one left the Spurs may be in a position to match. I could be wrong since I am not a GM but this does seem risky.

    That being said there is value in continuity at this point in the big three era and if the Spurs had played the Pacers and not Miami, Splitter may be looking at 10-12 million per season already.

  • John T.

    sorry I meant bid…not big

  • LePass

    This deal looks like a sign-n-trade in the making. Pop wants Scola badly to get the best of what’s left in Manu when moments like game 6 and 7 matter the most.

  • Matthew R Tynan

    Can’t use the MLE on Manu. Only way you can go over the cap and keep your MLE is by signing your own players to do so, not other teams’ free agents. If you renounce Manu, then you go under the cap. With his cap hold, Spurs are still technically over the cap. If they re-sign him, they can potentially stay over if both he and Neal get deals big enough to keep them there. If you want to get Kirilenko, the most realistic way to do it is to amnesty Bonner (unfortunately) and stay under the cap with reasonable Manu/Neal deals.

  • Dr. Who

    Check the nba, this is about the going rate for a 7′ (even though he’s actually 6’11”) mobile center that can play both ends of the floor. He isn’t a standout on defense or offense but is solid at both. His 1 on 1 post up D is very solid which is a requirement in the West. His contract isn’t too far off from Asik’s who basically only plays D. Look at what David West just got signed to. You’re living n a pipe dream if you think Tiago was going to be signed for anything less than 8MM/year. Any team would have swooped him up at that price.

    Fickle fans soon forget the praise he was receiving up to the Finals. He does many things on the court that don’t show up in the stat sheet. Do you remember how well he and TD handled “the best front court in the NBA” during the Grizz series? How soon we forget. If you don’t sign Tiago at 9MM a year, who are you going to get? Jefferson while incredible on offense plays subpar D. Good luck getting him at 9MM. Look at the market before throwing someone under the bus and saying they are overpaid. Unfortunately if you are a 7′ NBA player, you are worth a lot of money.

  • http://www.nba.com/spurs/?tmd=1 TheRealDirtyP1

    Fisher? No respect for that guy. He gave up on the Mavs and went to the Thunder. Wherever he goes, if the team isn’t doing well he finds a way to get out of it.
    I’m with you on Beaubois, the guy tore the Spurs up a couple of years ago but couldn’t get out of Carlisle’s dog house. I’m just saying as a Spurs fan living in Dallas, that i would LOVE that move. I like Joseph, but you can’t coach speed, and Roddie is faster than TP.

  • http://www.nba.com/spurs/?tmd=1 TheRealDirtyP1

    And now they’re both signed. True Spurs fans treat it like family. You might get mad at them or whatever, but you get over it and still love them. I like these moves, especially since the Spurs will know how much room they’ll have with the cap now that they’ve got they’re two highest FA’s signed.

  • junierizzle

    Did you really expect the Spurs to break the bank on Al Jefferson or Josh Smith? Not worth it. Splitter had a good playoffs and a bad match up in the Finals. He is still a good fit for this team. And an old Manu is better than half the 2 guards in the league.

  • rcharl

    wondering what people think about Korver? Would he be a better fit than Bonner?

  • Titletown99030507d

    He Would Work Well With Rubio. But I’d Rather Have Him As A Spur.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Joseph? Not In This Lifetime. MaybE DeColo, He Was Robbed Of Minutes. By The Way Some Of Those I Included Were Wings. And Theres Nothing Wrong With Any Of Those. What Planet Are You On?

  • Titletown99030507d

    You Dont Have An Argument. Kawhi Missed The Game Winner And Even AfteR That Pop Failed To To Put At Least One Real Big Man For One Measly Rebound.

  • Titletown99030507d

    They’re Throwing Crazy Money At Him. Crazy For Us At Least.

  • Titletown99030507d

    Hes Too old.

  • http://www.nba.com/spurs/?tmd=1 TheRealDirtyP1

    Now that Manu is signing for 2/14, is there enough left for AK even if you amnesty Bonner? Bonner is making about a million per ppg, and some of that ppg is during trash time, IMO if you can do that for AK, you do it for the better of the team. No one has said anything about McGrady, would he play for vet minimum? Would he fit in here? Will Jack be on a roster this year and make more than Bonner if he’s not amnestied? So many burning questions :)

  • Dr. Who

    Scola? Really? Maybe 5 years ago. Why would u get rid of a 7 footer who can defend bigs one on one for an undersized Scola. Spurs have proved they don’t need a scorer at the 5. They need defense. With an experienced Splitter playing next to TD, the Spurs were a top 3 defensive team. It had been ages since they were that strong defensively. Surely Pop doesnt want to take a step back???

  • idahospur

    Is Manu getting a deal of 2 years, $14M? Seems high. I was thinking $3-5M.

  • idahospur

    I saw the Manu deal too. Seems high. I think it would take a lot to convince someone like Kirilenko to go for a $5-7M deal or for the MLE (even less I think). Expect a Neal deal of about $3M/year and call it good.

  • Dr. Who

    I think most were expecting 5MM, but if you look at the market and other contract offers, he probably would have received something similar from another team. GM’s don’t just watch the playoffs. There is value in the NBA for Manu. Just look at the offers for other FA guards. It’s really shocking since the spurs haven’t really had to pay market value too many times. But it is what it is.

  • Bry

    @Dr. I’m not fickle. I watched Tiago played limited minutes all season and throughout the playoffs. I don’t care how tall he is, he’s gotta be on the court to earn the big boy money. Perkins and Jordan are killing the Thunder and Clippers finances respectively for just that reason.

    @junier No, I didn’t expect them to break the bank on any of those flawed ‘superstars’. Just to either get Splitter at a discount, or look elsewhere.

    @Title Really? You’re putting that on Kawhi? Look at MINUTES PLAYED. Look at fouls and turnovers committed per minute played. Kawhi was a monster and his and Green’s early production was the sole reason they stayed competitive despite Manu’s collapse. All the big-money players that everyone is talking about getting big money play BIG MINUTES. Starter minutes. They don’t spend more than half the game sitting on the bench. That is way too much money to give a bench guy. I like Splitter, and Ginobili has been phenomenal in the past. But, this year – including the entire playoffs – they played small minutes. Meanwhile Duncan, despite his age, and Parker (injured toward the end) played massive minutes. You want big money? You wanna get foul calls? Play big minutes. And don’t turnover the ball, get high percentage shots swatted in the paint, or foul trouble and you just might get them. Seriously. Leonard had a breath-taking performance while guarding LEBRON JAMES for seven games, while Splitter got humiliated out of the starting line-up and clear out of the rotation. And you’re gonna talk about a free throw? Really?? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills….

  • Dr. Who

    Korver isn’t a stretch 4. But yeah teams think a lot about him that’s why he’s getting offer a free offer. He’ll cost you over 6-7MM a year. Nowhere near what Bonner is on the books for.

  • Dr. Who

    Manu’s deal all but kills the AK talks. He’d have to take a huge pay cut to play here. Most likely the MLE is al we’ll have. Unless we do some sort of sign and trade. That’s highly unlikely though.