James Anderson has impressed so far with the Spurs, but whether or not the team keeps him and guarantees his contract for the season may depend on how close San Antonio is willing to get to the luxury tax threshold, according to Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News. Head coach Gregg Popovich tells Monroe that the Spurs are committed to staying out of tax territory this season, which could have an effect on the team's roster moves going forward.
"It's also a business," Popovich said, after praising Anderson and saying there was a chance he could stick in San Antonio all season. "So you’ve got to look at the money end of it, taxes and how close we are, because we’re not going to pay tax. We’re not going to do that."
According to ShamSports (link currently down), the Spurs' team salary was at $69,157,865 prior to Anderson's signing. Depending on how long Anderson remains on the roster, the team will take a cap hit worth a pro-rated portion of the veteran's minimum ($854,389). Keeping Anderson on the roster until season's end would take team salary close to $70MM, which wouldn't give the club much breathing room under the tax line ($70,307,000).
While it's possible for the Spurs to keep Anderson all year without going into the tax, it would likely prevent them from making subsequent moves later in the season. More signings, including 10-day contracts, would be difficult to maneuver, and the team would have to avoid taking on salary in any trades. As such, it's more likely that the Spurs will release Anderson prior to January 10th, when all contracts become fully guaranteed. That would give the team a little more flexibility beneath the tax line, and free up a roster spot to use later in the season. Additionally, if Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Jackson come back healthy, Anderson doesn't figure to be a part of San Antonio's regular rotation anyway.
The Spurs paid about $2.5MM in taxes for last season's roster, but likely want to avoid being over the threshold for consecutive seasons, given the more punitive penalties on the way for repeat taxpayers.