Restricted free agent Aron Baynes is exploring options in Europe even as he maintains a desire to re-sign with the Spurs, reports Ismail Senol of NTV Spor in Turkey (Twitter link; translation via HoopsHype). Senol suggests the center is looking for a better deal than what the Spurs have on the table, though it’s not clear whether San Antonio has proposed an arrangement any more lucrative than his qualifying offer, worth slightly more than $1.115MM.
Heading overseas would give Baynes a chance to control his own destiny, since the Spurs have the right to match any offer he receives from another NBA team. There haven’t been many reports about Baynes in the past few months, in stark contrast to Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe, the only other remaining restricted free agents. A dispatch from about a month ago indicated the Spurs maintained hope of re-signing the Marc Fleisher client, so that suggests the two sides have mutual interest but haven’t been able to find agreeable terms.
San Antonio doesn’t lack flexibility, since the Spurs could give Baynes a starting salary of up to $5,631,505 using his Early Bird rights, and doing so wouldn’t put them over the tax threshold. Of course, Baynes wouldn’t command nearly that much, having failed to average 10 minutes per game last season even on a Spurs team that employed one of the most egalitarian minutes distributions of all time. There were 14 Spurs who appeared in at least 10 games and averaged 10 or more minutes per contest last season, and Baynes wasn’t one of them.
Still, the New Zealand native represents one of the many prospects from overseas who’ve helped the Spurs build their lengthy run of success. Baynes was playing in Slovenia when the Spurs signed him in January of 2013, and he had spent the previous season in Greece. He went undrafted in 2009 after playing four seasons at Washington State.
The Spurs are already carrying 16 players, as our roster counts show, but only 14 of them have fully guaranteed deals. Bryce Cotton and JaMychal Green, both of whom have partially guaranteed pacts, would no doubt stand a better shot of making it to opening night if Baynes heads elsewhere.