Only one restricted free agent in the NBA this season technically signed an offer sheet with a rival team that his previous team didn’t match. That player was Boban Marjanovic, who left the Spurs to sign a three-year, $21MM deal with the Pistons. And according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News, it took a push from head coach Gregg Popovich for Marjanovic to accept that offer, since his first choice was to remain with the Spurs.
“He’s such a good kid, at some point I had to work to get him to understand that $21 million was different than $3 million,” Popovich said, per McDonald. “I said, ‘Get your ass out of here. Go. You’ve got to do it.’ But he felt bad.”
“We knew he was gone,” Popovich added. “It happens to every team. You lose a guy because you have to pay people and you can’t pay them all.”
The Spurs used up their cap room this summer when they signed Pau Gasol to a two-year contract, leaving the team unable to match the Pistons’ offer for Marjanovic. San Antonio could have used its room exception to retain the restricted free agent, but as Popovich notes, such a deal would have only paid about $3MM per year, far less than Detroit offered.
In his rookie season with the Spurs, Marjanovic averaged 5.5 PPG and 3.6 RPG, despite appearing in just 9.4 minutes per contest (54 games). Based on the contract he received from Detroit, the 28-year-old figures to have a more significant role with his new team. While he admits that he would have liked to remain a Spur, Marjanovic says he thinks he “made a good decision” to sign with the Pistons, per McDonald.