It’s August, the NBA is in full offseason mode and all the “difference making” free-agents this summer are already locked-up with contending teams. Although some of them might tinker the roster a bit more as the new season approaches.
The Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers are certainly looking good on paper, but what about the San Antonio Spurs?
Here’s what they’ve done this offseason.
Re-signed Matt Bonner
The Good: He provides another dimension to the Spurs’ offensive game. He stretches the floor by knocking down open jumpers. Last season he averaged 7 points and 3.3 rebounds on 44.6% shooting from the field and 39% from the 3-point area in 65 games despite suffering a hand injury during the regular season. An “energy guy” that tries his best to get his share of rebounds.
The Bad: He has yet to prove that he can consistently hit the open jumpers when the stakes are higher. In the playoffs against the Dallas Mavericks last year, he only averaged 3.8 points and 3.7 rebounds while shooting 34.6% from the field and 31.3% from behind the arc. Not to mention he is a liability on the defensive side of the floor.
Contract: Re-signed for 4 years.
The verdict: While Bonner’s skill set helps the Spurs on offense, he needs to improve on other areas of his game especially on defense and he must hit those jumpers in the post season. Also the 4 year contract that starts at 3 million seems a bit too much to pay Bonner, the Spurs should have asked for a little discount. Though some Spurs fans did not like this resigning. Grade C
Drafted and signed James Anderson
The Good: He was the Big 12 player in 2009 and many think the Spurs got another draft day steal at number 20. In 33 games for Oklahoma State last season, he led the Big 12 in scoring to the tune of 22.3 ppg, while also contributing 5.8 rpg and 1.4 spg for the Cowboys. If he can score and shoot like he did in college, the Spurs’ front office will look like geniuses once again.
The Bad: He suffered a hamstring injury prior to the draft that caused him to miss all the games in the Las Vegas Summer League.
Contract: Signed for 2 years, (1st year) $1.36 M, (2nd year) $1.46 M.
The verdict: The Spurs might have another draft day gem, a lot of people believes that this guy can contribute immediately. However, he must still prove that he can score and shoot consistently at an NBA level. Grade B
Signed Tiago Splitter
The Good: The Spurs finally have a legit big man to play alongside Tim Duncan. Splitter might be the best available big man outside the NBA. He won the ACB League MVP before coming over to San Antonio and his high basketball IQ will help his smooth transition into the NBA. He will provide an immediate impact to the team this coming season.
The Bad: Will he be able to live up to the hype or will he take more time to learn the Spurs’ complex system? Also guarding athletic bigs like Dwight Howard, Amar’e Stoudemire and Chris Bosh could be a problem. Then again, who really can slow those big men?
Contract: Signed for 3 years $11.016 M, with the first year paying him $3.4 M.
The verdict: Anytime you can add an MVP-caliber player on the cheap that is a phenomenal job. Once again, great job Mr. R.C. Buford. Grade A
The Good: Jefferson opted out the final year of his contract that could have paid him 15 million next year. Instead the Spurs re-signed for a more reasonable but longer contract.
The Bad: Will Jefferson play better next season? Spurs fans will soon find but after a year of learning the Spurs’ system and with Spurs’ coach, Gregg Popovich, working with him during the offseason, there might be hope for Jefferson.
Contract: Re-signed for 4 years at 38.8 M.
The verdict: With the limited availability of free-agent swingmen, re-signing Jefferson becomes a must. A three-year contract could have been perfect but the Spurs probably gave RJ a four-year term because of opting out from a 15 million contract that saved the team a lot of money on short term. The 3rd and 4th year of Jefferson’s contract seems to be too much. Grade B-
The Bad: Not much to say, if you can sign a player on the cheap and can potentially fill the void of reliable outside shooting on your team that isn’t too bad.
Contract: 3 year guaranteed contract with the first year paying him $525,000.
The verdict: The Spurs were able to add a player who has a lot of basketball experience and can be a reliable shooter for a very reasonable price. Grade B+
Possible roster moves: The roster count is at 14. Curtis Jerrells’ contract is not fully guaranteed and the Spurs are now very deep at the guard position; Jerrells could be the odd man out. The Spurs still have around $1.7-1.8 M leftover from the MLE after signing Neal and the Bi-Annual exception around $2 M that they can use to sign another wingman or another big.
Overall Grade – B. The Spurs have done a great job this offseason and there is no doubt that their roster has improved compared to last year. Nonetheless, I still expect the Spurs to sign another free-agent or two that might help them this upcoming season.
What are your thoughts? Agree with the grade(s) I sent out? Give us your own take and tell us what you think.