2012 Las Vegas Summer League: Notes from Game 2

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The Summer Spurs continue to impress. (Photo credit: Andrew Smith)

Just a few notes and observations for you from last night’s Spurs 92-81 win over the Lakers. I’ve got a foot out the door on my way to Vegas, so the content should improve beginning with tonight’s Spurs game against the Clippers.

  • Kawhi Leonard continued where he left off against the Hawks, notching 27 points, eight boards and three assists. There were growing pains, no doubt, but it’s good to see that he can handle the offensive load. While Kawhi finished with four turnovers, he made a lot of plays that were unseen during his rookie season. In essence, he’s growing.
  • Cory Joseph played well against the Lakers. Joseph seemed to have a better feel for running the point guard position, at least more than he did against the Hawks. CoJo finished with 18 points on 8-12 shooting, five assists and three steals. Two areas where I think Joseph can make a home in the NBA are defensively and as a shooter. Joseph has a larger frame than it initially seems and does well to pressure the ball. If he can develop his point guard instincts and knowledge of the system, he could find his place in the NBA.
  • While he played about half as many minutes as in Game 1, Eric Dawson finished with just four points and two rebounds. Looking for a, ahem, bounce back performance from him Wednesday against the Clippers.
  • While Dawson struggle, Tyler Wilkerson played well against the Lakers. Wilkerson finished with 12 points and eight rebounds in Game 2 and impressed in his limited minutes in the first game against the Hawks. Could end up a training camp invitee.
  • Just three minutes of anonymous action from Ryan Richards on Tuesday.
  • After not playing against the Hawks, Alexis Ajinca racked up about 13 minutes of playing time on Tuesday. The results weren’t pretty. While Ajinca is very large, his mobility is bad. On one play in particular, Ajinca helped on the pick-and-roll and was absolutely frozen by the ball-handling guard. The Laker guard went right to the basket for a layup before Ajinca even reacted. With as much trouble as the Spurs have defending the PnR, I don’t think Ajinca is the answer as a fourth or fifth big.
  • ThatBigGuy

    Kawhi continues to impress me with his offense. He had one play where he got the rebound and dribbled up the court on a pseudo fast break. There were too many defenders back, so he hesitated for two dribbles to see which defender picked him up (at the top of the key). Once the defender committed to him, he did two quick crossovers, broke down the defender, and took his man to the hoop. This was all before the Laker center had set up shop in the middle, so the lane was open. Kawhi drew contact from his defender, spun to his right hand, then layed the ball in with a gentle finger roll. The entire play just reeked of natural basketball talent, with no wasted moves. He has the potential to be a 20/7 guy, basically Rudy Gay with defense. In 3 years, he has a real chance to be the best player from his draft.

    I see flashes of NBA talent in Joseph, but not consistent enough to warrant PT with the Spurs this season. Considering he’s only 20 and learning the toughest position, I would like to see him get a lot of focus in Austin. I think he could be a Mike Conley type player in a few years, which is valuable as a trade asset or a back-up point guard for Tony. That’s really not too bad for the 29th pick.

  • STIJL

    Bear with me people. It’s a long summer and not much being shown by the Spurs summer league roster except for the obvious in Leonard and Joseph being the most consistent.

    With that said…It’s known via the web that the Kings best bet may be to part with Tyreke Evans. If true maybe this trade helps all teams involved. Teague would be a perfect compliment to the Kings offense. Evans? a new start for what would be a “retooling” Hawks team? Hawks make offer to one of the recent bigs that have been amnestied?

    http://espn.go.com/nba/tradeMachine?tradeId=6mzay26

  • rcharl

    This question does not fit here, but I also do not know who or where else to ask. I was hoping the Spurs would have signed Ersan İlyasova giving them a young. power forward to team with and learn from TD, He has great upside and even with the Spurs cap space increasing do not feel the Spurs can get that much talent for the dollars he signed and he would be a young building block. Could the Spurs have signed him to a contract with a signing bonus and then heavily weighted on the back that would have worked i.e. I maybe be confusing the baseball signing bonus with the NBA but thought that either
    1. signing bonus $10 million.
    2. 5 years contract year 1 = 2 million
    year 2 = 4 mill
    year 3 = 10 mill
    year 4 = 10 mill
    year 5 = 10 mill
    Total 46 million plus the extra value of the signing bonus.
    This might not be the best way to distribute the dollars but gives a start to develop other possible ways. The Spurs could have done something similar in concept to what the rockets did and optimally utilized future cap space.

    Thoughts or comments?

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  • ThatBigGuy

    Not too shabby. Not only do we get a young, talented big, but he’s also an expiring contract after this season. We’d have the room sign him as a FA if he works well with Pop and Timmy, or let him go in free agency if he’s a giant tool. Low risk, high reward.

    I’m just not sure Ferry is willing to part with Smith. Between Smith’s talent and his connection with Dwight, I think Ferry holds on to Smith.

  • ThatBigGuy

    First of all, signing bonuses are limited to 15% of the total deal. So he’d have to be getting a ~$67 million contract to get a $10 million signing bonus. It’s also unheard of to give a signing bonus, since, unlike the NFL, the NBA contract is completely guaranteed.

    Secondly, his cap hold for the new team is worth the average of his contract per year, not based on what his year by year earnings actually are. This means $46 million divided by 5 years = $9.2 million per year. Seeing as we’re over the cap, we can’t sign him anyways, even with a gigantic (although illegal) signing bonus.

    That’s why the Rockets aren’t worried about the $15 million in year 3 of Lin’s contract, because the cap hold will only be worth $25 million divided by 3 years = $8.3 million.

  • Tessa

    NBA contracts are distributed equally across years for the purpose of the salary cap. So even though the Rockets’ Lin contract is massively backloaded, he will count on the cap for the same amount each year.

    There’s one exception to this: teams matching contracts on restricted free agents in cases when they can’t fit the cap amount into an exception. The Knicks don’t have Bird Rights on Lin (it takes 3 years; when a team has Bird rights, they can exceed the salary cap to sign a player for up to the maximum contract). As a result, they can’t sign Lin to an $8.3 million average contract like the Rockets did. They can only match up to a certain amount until Bird rights kick in, and teams like the Rockets are forbidden to give Lin a contract exceeding what the Knicks can match. But in year 3 of the contract, Bird rights kick in, so the Rockets are free to pay Lin more, because the Knicks are free to match that amount.

    Now, the Rockets used normal cap space, so they can just spread the contract across 3 years evenly — indeed, they have to. But the Knicks, because they lack the cap or an exception to do so, have to match with each year counting as its own cap amount, so the balloon year costs them a small fortune in luxury tax.

    This is useful in designing a contract that other teams will not want to match, but not useful in designing a player contract favorable to you when you sign someone — except in this one rare case, a contract always costs a team the average value against the cap each year.

    Sorry if this comment was hopelessly long and confusing.

  • grego

    Ferry was hired because he’s smart. He can do better than that for Josh Smith.

  • ThatBigGuy

    I wish there was an edit or delete option for previous posts.

    To add to the signing bonus question: the signing bonus must be taken equally from each year of the life of the contract. If you have a 5yr/$50 mil contract ($10 mil/year), and a $5 mil signing bonus, you can’t just take all $5 mil of the bonus from the first year of the contract in order to make a smaller ($5 mil) first year salary figure. You have to take $1 million from each year of the contract, turning 5 years at $10 mil each into 5 years at $9 mil each.

    The other factor is that the contract can only increase a max of 7.5% each year. There are some notable exceptions, like Lin and other restricted FAs, but İlyasova isn’t one of those exceptions because he’s a regular FA. This makes sure that the salary increases at a consistent rate, which means having a $2 mil first year salary impossible.

    İlyasova’s contract with the Spurs (going with a 5 yr/$46 mil offer), assuming a 15% signing bonus, would have looked liked this:

    Bonus = $7 mil
    Year 1 = $6.7 mil
    Year 2 = $7.2 mil
    Year 3 = $7.8 mil
    Year 4 = $8.4 mil
    Year 5 = $9.0 mil

    Because of the cap holds on Dunca, Green, and Diaw, we didn’t have the room to offer İlyasova a contract.

    The other major factor is that signing bonuses are extremely rare, because the entire contract is guaranteed in the NBA. If you sign for 5 yrs/$46 mil, but you flame out and are cut after year 2, you still get paid your entire $46 mil.

  • DorieStreet

    STIJL figuring Ferry helps us ala the Gasol brothers swap between Grizzlies and Lakers.

  • DorieStreet

    Not aware of the Hawks in serious play to get Dwight (but Ferry could be working through Josh). Al Horford needs to be moved to his natural position of PF, where Smith has started all of his 8-year career for the Hawks. Would Ferry give up Horford in order to land Dwight?

  • DorieStreet

    I’m reading this on other Spurs Fans blog sites about Joseph. Perhaps half a season with the Spurs in 2012-13- or he could make the leap ala Danny Green (battle with Patty Mills/Marcus Denmon in training camp?) The timing could be right for him to basically split time with Tony in 3 years–all of those knockdowns in the lane (past and future) will eventually take its toll on Parker.

  • STIJL

    Well…if I could find a site that allows trade picks, trading of rights to players, etc. I would use that. Sure Ferry would get more than that for Smith. What else could be included via the web for all teams involved? Again…I can’t find one.

  • Tyler

    No problem. That was a very eloquent explanation.

  • ThatBigGuy

    I would. Plus, Dwight and Smith are best friends; Dwight was best man in Smith’s wedding. Add in Atlanta being Dwight’s hometown, and I’d say they have some sort of decent chance at landing Dwight.

  • ThatBigGuy

    Ya, I see your situation being his ceiling, but an attainable ceiling. If his efficiency in Austin can improve, and he shows to be an above average defender, I have no doubts he’ll have a roster spot in SA next season. You could certainly do much worse than a defensive Mike Conley.

  • DorieStreet

    They played with and against each other growing up (AAU and their parochial schools). If Dwight becomes a Hawk, they could add 5,000 seats to Phillips Arena for basketball and sell out every night.

  • grego

    I understand, but at least in the Gasol deal, the other Gasol + nice big contract was there. Blair is no where near Gasol.

  • STIJL

    A front court tandem to rival the best front court tandems in history. Question. Why would Orlando willingly provide it’s conference rival with such a deal? Not saying if the “pieces” were right they wouldn’t.

  • STIJL

    Just hoping Spurs can land someone Quid pro quo. Current post player resume of this team stands at relatively low favor for the Spurs with Duncan another season older, Bonner’s disappearing acts in the playoffs, Blair’s playing out of rotation the past two seasons and Splitter’s seemingly apex ceiling in what he can provide. That leaves the team with Diaw to miraculously perform better than he did last season.

    Of course that’s negative conjure but it’s also realty staring us in the face.

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