We’re roughly three and a half weeks away from the date (July 11) when NBA free agents can begin signing new deals. For the San Antonio Spurs, that date will have major significance on their franchise should Tim Duncan not re-sign and decide to retire, but the expectation is Duncan will sign for one or two more seasons in the Alamo City where he began and plans to end his career.
With Duncan off the salary books for at least three and a half weeks, let’s look at where the Spurs stand financially going into this offseason.
The 10 under contract
- Tony Parker – Parker has three years remaining on his deal and is due 12.5 million next season. With this being the season where Parker was the leader of the Spurs and the team failed to win a championship, his name could once again be drawn into trade rumors since he didn’t have a consistent series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, similar to how his name was tossed around last year because of his inconsistent performance against the Memphis Grizzlies in the Spurs’ first round exit. Parker had a phenomenal season this year making the All-Star team and even the All-NBA second team. He was also the leader for the Spurs’ first two playoff series against the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers. But it was after game two in the Thunder series where Oklahoma City made some major adjustments and Parker could never fully take over a game again, which begs the question, will the Spurs ever be a title contender with Parker as the captain of the ship? Parker will be heading to the 2012 Olympics in London to try and help France fight for a Gold Medal.
- Manu Ginobili – Ginobili will be in Duncan’s boat next season as he will be playing out the final year of his contract where he is due 14.1 million. Ginobili missed a good chunk of this previous season when he broke his hand early on. He provided productivity in the playoffs off the bench and even showed he could occasionally put the team on his back like he did in game five against the Thunder, but still with Ginobili heading to London for the Olympics one final time, one also gets the feeling this could be his last season in the silver and black as well.
- Stephen Jackson – Jackson is also in the final year of his contract as he is due 10.06 million next season. Jackson showed that he can still be a force in this league with his strong willed postseason play and he, next to rookie Kawhi Leonard give the Spurs a small forward defensive tandem that can be used in different lineups for head coach Gregg Popovich.
- Tiago Splitter – Splitter is under contract for the next two seasons and is set to make 3.9 million this coming season. After this season, he’ll be a restricted free agent in the 13-14’ offseason. Splitter showed that he is one of the best in the league at executing in the pick-and-roll, but his lack of athleticism kept him off the court against the Thunder, as did his declining free throw shooting. Splitter can still work to be a force in the post, and he’s headed to London as well to play in the Olympics representing Brazil, but as our own Trevor Zickgraf noted, Splitter has the highest chance of being this years George Hill, a role player with high value who could be traded for a possible top-10 draft pick.
- Matt Bonner – Spurs fans have another two years of cheering for Bonner in the regular season, then having to watch him become invisible in the postseason. Bonner is due 3.6 million next season. If the Spurs are going to make a trade either in the draft or with another team, Bonner’s name will be mentioned in any sorts of deals, but there won’t be many takers. Teams have seen the declining consistency in Bonner’s playoff performances and not many teams run the European style of offense where the big man can hit a three point shot and float around on the perimeter.
- Kawhi Leonard – Leonard is signed for the next four seasons, though two are team options, and the on the last, he’s a restricted free agent. Leonard is due 1.8 million next season and his play this season showed he’s going to be a cornerstone the franchise will build upon in the future. Leonard was not only as good as advertised defensively, but he had an unexpected offensive game as well. His shot quickly developed into a reliable consistent jumper, and he learned to finish at the rim in the open court and he also learned to score without the ball by either cutting to the rim or grabbing offensive rebounds and scoring. In the future, Parker and Leonard will be the main faces of the franchise; as Leonard is the quiet humble leader who leads by example with his play, not words.
- Cory Joseph – Joseph also has four years remaining on his contract while he is due 1.1 million next season. Joseph’s contract is similar to Leonard’s in that he is a team option for two years, and a restricted free agent in the final year of his contract. Joseph wasn’t ready for the rigors of a young point guard in the NBA without a training camp, so as he played in bits during the regular season, he spent a majority of his time in Austin with the Toros of D-League.
- DeJuan Blair – Blair is due 1 million next season, but it’s a non-guaranteed contract which means the team has the decision whether or not to keep him. With Boris Diaw and Duncan both free agents, the Spurs are down to just Splitter and Bonner in the frontcourt. The Spurs will most likely keep Blair on the team, but don’t be surprised if his name is mentioned in trade rumors as his role on the team became diminished once Diaw came in.
- Gary Neal – Like Blair, Neal is also due 854,389 next season but his deal is also non-guaranteed. The Spurs will most likely pick up Neal’s contract as he’s shown in two seasons that he can provide instant offense off the bench.
- Patty Mills – Mills has one year remaining at 885,120, but it’s up to him if he’ll stay with the Spurs or test free agency. In his short stint with San Antonio this season, he showed his speed and shooting ability as he guided the Spurs to some wins when their “big three” were being rested. He’ll be in London playing for Australia and his coach will be Brett Brown, whom is a Spurs assistant coach.
According to ShamSports.com, the Spurs’ salary will be set at 50,773,700 if they decide to pickup Blair and Neal’s salaries, while getting Mills to commit, and matching Danny Green’s offer from another team.
This past season, the Spurs’ salary was set at 73.2 million, and the only reason it’s gone so low this offseason is because Duncan’s 21.1 million is off the books. With no 2012-2013 salary cap set just yet, the interesting question becomes how much will it take to resign Duncan? If Duncan is signed for another big contract, it could limit the Spurs’ ability to shop for free agents, but since it will most likely be his last one or two seasons, I expect Duncan to take less, maybe 10-12 million so that the team has financial flexibility to go after some free agents this summer.
The Free Agents
- Tim Duncan – as mentioned above, the number one priority for the Spurs will be resigning Duncan to a new deal.
- Danny Green – Green is a restricted free agent and though he had a rough series against the Thunder, Green’s stock on the open market has risen as he shined as a starter throughout the season and even in the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Boston Celtics are already rumored to be taking interest in Green. More contenders will be trying to be pursuing the young guard, but the real question becomes how much is Green worth to the Spurs if a team throws a deal they may not want to match for him?
- James Anderson – Anderson got his start and chance to showcase himself with the Spurs when Ginobili broke his hand early in the season and didn’t show that he could be relied upon at that time. Anderson might still become an emerging player in the league, but it’s highly unlikely the Spurs will be looking to resign him.
- Boris Diaw – This a player the Spurs also covet for their frontcourt. Though undersized as a center, Diaw gave the Spurs a big man with multiple skills. He could pass, shoot, drive, and his gained weight over the past few seasons has made him a tough player to post against in the paint. Diaw is going to be playing in the Olympics in France and one thing can be sure, Parker will be reminding him that they can continue to play together in the silver and black for the next few seasons.
As to where the Spurs can look for help, it’s still unknown because the team won’t be able to resign Duncan until July 11 if he chooses not to retire, while the salary cap of the upcoming season also hasn’t been announced.
The Spurs still need some help in the frontcourt and in their bench with another attacking guard. Throughout the year reports have trickled out that Erazem Lorbek (forward) and Nando De Colo (guard), two European players the Spurs own right to, might be making their way to San Antonio this coming season, but if that’s the case, will there be any money to shop for free agents after they’re brought over?
It’s still too early in the offseason to get a better grasp of the financial situation for the Spurs, but for now, this where the team stands as of today.