NBA Roundtable

2010 Salary Cap: San Antonio

In Draft, Free Agency, General NBA, Trade Talk on June 30, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Initial post on the Spurs – link

San Antonio Spurs Salaries

Contracts Above $5 Million

  • Tim Duncan – $18.84 million
  • Tony Parker – $13.65 million
  • Manu Ginobili – $11.85 million

Tim Duncan has two years and $40 million left on his deal while Manu Ginobili is just beginning a three year $39 million contract. Tony Parker is entering the final season of his contract and due for a contract extension (similar pay bracket).

Those three players give us a sub-total of $44.34 million.

Rest Of Team’s Salaries

  • Antonio McDyess – $4.86 million
  • George Hill – $850k
  • DeJuan Blair – $920k

Antonio McDyess has two years left on his contract but only $3.4 million of his $5.2 million is guaranteed on that second season. George Hill is on the third season of his rookie scale contract while Blair has three years left on his contract.

These three players create a sub-total of $6.63 million.

Other Costs

  • Draft Pick — San Antonio drafted James Anderson  with the 20th pick in draft which holds a cap hold of $1.13 million
  • Open Roster Spaces – The Spurs have seven players on the books so they have five open roster spots to be accounted for which have a total cap hold of $2.38 million.

That is a sub-total of $3.51 million which gives us an overall total of $54.48 million.

Note: San Antonio also has a small cap hold ($860k) for Tiago Splitter but that is unimportant. Either they’ll sign him for much more money (MLE deal) or he’ll stay in Europe.

Salary Cap

David Stern recently announced

NBA commissioner David Stern said on Friday that the league is projecting the cap to come in at about $56.1 million. The actual number won’t be determined until early July, before teams can begin officially signing players.

Though that figure would still be lower than this season’s $57.7 million cap, it’s far better than estimates from last summer, when the league sent a memo to teams warning them of a potential sharp drop to between $50.4 million to $53.6 million.

The luxury tax threshold for a $56.1 million cap is $68 million.

Spurs Cap Space

San Antonio is below the salary cap line by $1.5 million so they’ll have their MLE and LLE open to them.

Summer Options

Spurs Free Agents

  • Richard Jefferson
  • Roger Mason Jr
  • Matt Bonner
  • Keith Bogans
  • Ian Mahinmi
  • Marcus Haislip

Marcus Haislip and Ian Mahinmi failed to make an impact in San Antonio and are unlikely to return.

The backcourt has become crowded following the progression of George Hill and there are no rotation minutes available for backup guard Roger Mason Jr. That makes his return dubious also.

Richard Jefferson has just completed a disappointing season in San Antonio. One where he failed to fit in offensively and didn’t come close to showing his best form. He is likely to look for a team where he can better display his skills and enjoy his basketball more than he did in San Antonio.

That leaves Keith Bogans and Matt Bonner. Bogans was a solid backup wing and I would have to imagine that San Antonio are interested in bringing him back. The Spurs hold his non-bird rights so they can offer him up to 120% of his previous contract but I would expect the Spurs to try to sign him to a minimum contract again.

Matt Bonner is a well liked weapon in the Spurs arsenal because of his three point shooting ability but the Spurs badly need to rebuild their supporting cast up front after being beaten around in the paint by bigger longer opponents for several years now. So, I would expect the Spurs to have some interest in Bonner but it will be limited. Probably in the $2 million range.

Spurs Roster

  • Guards – Tony Parker + George Hill + Manu Ginobili + James Anderson
  • Wings – None (Bogans?)
  • Big Men – Tim Duncan + Antonio McDyess + DeJuan Blair + (Matt Bonner?)

In summary, the Spurs roster is thread bare. They have nowhere near the supporting cast they require to make a run at another Championship.

They badly need a starting small forward + a backup small forward + an athletic floor spacing big who can matchup against small ball lineups + more interior help for Tim Duncan defensively + more size and length in the paint.

That is four different needs which will need at least three players in order to be filled. Each one of those players will cost the MLE. So even after San Antonio spends their MLE, they are still going to have two or three major holes in their roster. Holes that are big enough to stop them from competing for an NBA Title.

Note: James Anderson is reportedly a suspect defender and underwhelming rebounder for a two guard. Forcing him to play the small forward position will leave San Antonio overly exposed in both areas.

Question

Where does this leave San Antonio?

  • The Spurs should be preparing for 2011/12. This season is already a lost cause in terms of winning a title but it can be a valuable opportunity to develop talent.
  • That means San Antonio has to prioritize giving minutes to their young players

Is there any way that San Antonio can be a legitimate contender for the crown?

Yeah, there is one way (update below, no longer sure this can work either).

The Spurs could trade Tony Parker for a star forward, most likely a power forward. To create a new Big Three with Duncan, Ginobili and Player X.

George Hill would fill the vacuum in the backcourt. Roger Mason Jr would be resigned as lead backup guard. Ginobili and Anderson would handle the remaining backcourt minutes.

San Antonio would then have two options with their MLE:

(1) Spend it on a wing player — Someone like Mike Miller, John Salmons, Josh Howard or Travis Outlaw. If those targets fall through, San Antonio should switch their attentions to Dorell Wright.

The Spurs would use the remainder of the MLE to sign another rotation player. Either a wing player (Matt Barnes?) or a big man (Louis Amundson?).

From there on, the Spurs would need to focus on adding quality minimum contract signings. Keith Bogans for one. Possibly someone like a Rodney Carney or a James Jones. Up front, I would be looking at James Singleton and Ben Wallace.

(2) Spend their MLE on Tiago Splitter giving the Spurs a powerful four player big man rotation. Two quasi seven footers with Duncan and Splitter, an All-Star power forward, and DeJuan Blair. They would also have Antonio McDyess in the fifth big role (or vice versa with Blair).

That big man rotation would lack a bit of quickness and mobility and would be somewhat vulnerable in certain situations but overall their talents should see them through.

Combine that talented frontcourt with the Spurs quality backcourt (Ginobili, Hill, Mason, Anderson) and San Antonio will be a nice position. If they can acquire a couple of quality minimum contract wing players to fill the starting SF and backup wing roles – James Jones, Keith Bogans, Rodney Carney – they could put together a promising team.

Note: I cannot see any way where San Antonio can keep Tony Parker and remain a legit contender next season.

Update: The more I think about this possibility the less I am convinced of it as a possibility. None of the power forwards are going to have enough quality, particularly defensively, to push San Antonio into contention. It will be a similar overall team to the one Tony Parker would lead just with a different style of play / different dynamic.

The most likely target for San Antonio would be Al Jefferson. Without being able to sign Splitter, that team likely wouldn’t have enough quality defensively in the paint + without being able to use the MLE on a wing, the Spurs would unlikely have enough quality there to succeed. Either way, it looks like the Spurs are going to be at least one high quality role player away from being a legitimate contender.

Is there any chance that Richard Jefferson re-signs? Should San Antonio fans want Jefferson to re-up?

There is a small chance Jefferson wishes to return but only a very small chance.

Richard Jefferson, like most egotistical NBA stars, is a proud man and he won’t like how he looked last season in San Antonio (like a has been who is no longer capable of being a dominant player). Jefferson is going to be very reluctant to go through that again especially when there are other teams offering comparable money and greener pastures/promises elsewhere.

Re-signing Richard Jefferson would give the Spurs a much better chance of putting a contender on the floor on the next season, as he is a valuable role player still, but a five year MLE contract is a bad contract for San Antonio.

The Spurs would need to trade RJ in the near future to avoid the negative consequences of that contract. Something which should be possible. Still, that long term issue is far smaller than the Spurs pressing short term needs so San Antonio fans should want Jefferson back.

Where the Spurs in a better position before Richard Jefferson opted out?

Absolutely, having that trade asset (large expiring contract) put far more options on the board for San Antonio.

This has forced San Antonio into a difficult position.

What should San Antonio do?

  • Concentrate on building a contender for the 2011/12 season
  • Add young players who can be valuable role players today and play in a role in the future after Duncan + Ginobili retire
  • Sign a talented young player with their MLE. Preferably Tiago Splitter.
  • Prioritize giving minutes to young players. That means DeJuan Blair should be playing big minutes + that players like McDyess and Bonner should be glued to the bench.
  • Target young minimum contract players with upside. For example, Rodney Carney who could become a top defensive stopper in the right situation.
  • Target young role players with limited upside – for example, James Singleton to matchup better against small ball lineups + Johan Petro – players who may be able to play a role in 2011 (small chance)
  • Reach a decision on the Tony Parker + George Hill situation. Which one of them is your long term point guard? Then trade the other for someone of value at another position.
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