Offseason Outlook: San Antonio Spurs

Guaranteed Contracts


Non-Guaranteed Contracts

Free Agents / Cap Holds

Draft Picks

  • 1st Round (28th overall)
  • 2nd Round (58th overall)

Cap Outlook

  • Guaranteed Salary: $32,884,578
  • Options: $5,836,450
  • Non-Guaranteed Salary: $2,945,000
  • Cap Holds: $41,960,5142
  • Total: $83,626,5422

After the Spurs came within a few baskets of the 2013 championship, it's becoming clear that the team's long-awaited drop-off may just not be coming. We've all assumed that core players like Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili would eventually slow down, resulting in at least one or two down years for a club that hasn't had a winning percentage below .610 since 1996/97.

And that process is starting to happen — Ginobili has had trouble staying on the court the last couple seasons, and his 11.8 PPG and .425 FG% marks in 2012/13 were both nearly career-lows. Duncan, meanwhile, remains productive, but isn't logging the same 35-40 minutes he was earlier in his career, having averaged 28.9 MPG over the last three seasons.

Nonetheless, the Spurs continue to rack up wins. Tony Parker only just turned 31 and should have a few good years left in him, while a wave of younger players are starting to make significant contributions, picking up some of the slack for San Antonio's veterans. The 21-year-old Kawhi Leonard looks like the player with the most star potential, but Danny Green, Tiago Splitter, and Cory Joseph also played key roles for the Western Conference champs.

Still, at some point Ginobili and Duncan will retire, and to extend the franchise's incredible run of success, the Spurs will have to find a way to not just keep their younger contributors locked up, but also to continue adding useful pieces to the core. With Ginobili, Splitter, and Gary Neal among the players headed for free agency next week, this summer represents an important one for the Spurs to begin putting those long-term pieces in place.

Assuming the Argentinian guard doesn't decide to retire, re-signing Ginobili figures to be a priority for the Spurs in July. Since he earned a $14MM+ salary in 2012/13, Ginobili will have a cap hold worth the max salary, but is likely in line for a significant pay cut. Agreeing to a new deal with him early on in the offseason will allow the Spurs to reduce that big cap hit to his new salary, potentially something below $5MM, giving the team room to pursue other players.

If we assume Boris Diaw and Patty Mills exercise their respective player options, and the Spurs decide to fully guarantee the final year of Matt Bonner's contract, a salary around $4-5MM for Ginobili would bring the overall team salary to about $46MM for 11 players. However, that would still leave the club with decisions to make on Splitter and Neal.

Grantland's Zach Lowe recently suggested that executives believe Splitter, a productive and fairly young big, will earn an annual salary in the neighborhood of $8-10MM. If Splitter gets such a deal from the Spurs, and Neal receives a modest raise to return, the team won't have any cap space, and will have to use its mid-level exception to add another rotation player.

On the other hand, if the team decides to renounce its rights to Splitter and Neal, and perhaps waives Bonner and signs Ginobili at an even more discounted rate, San Antonio could nearly have enough room to make a max-salary offer to a free agent. There has been some speculation that the team could be a dark horse suitor for Dwight Howard, but I have a hard time seeing it. The Spurs pride themselves on their chemistry, and Howard hasn't exactly blended in seamlessly on or off the court for the Magic or Lakers during the last couple seasons.

It's possible the Spurs could decide that pursuing a free agent veteran like Howard, Paul Millsap, or Al Jefferson makes more sense than bringing back Splitter, but I think the most likely scenario involves Ginobili, Splitter, and Neal returning to San Antonio. We typically don't see the Spurs too involved with major free agents — most of their rotation players were drafted or acquired by the team early in their respective careers, and have been developed and groomed by San Antonio for years. R.C. Buford and the team's front office have displayed a real knack for identifying diamonds in the rough, so even if the club uses its full MLE to bring in a veteran, I don't expect a major splash in San Antonio this offseason. It's possible that the Spurs' most impactful long-term addition this summer will be selected with the No. 28 pick this Thursday, given how well the team has drafted over the years.

Assuming this Spurs team returns relatively intact, with a few minor changes around the edges, we'll likely hear plenty of chatter in the fall about that long-awaited drop-off finally arriving in 2013/14. But with Leonard evolving into a potential star, Green claiming a bigger role, and Parker continuing to run the offense, I'm guessing San Antonio will be just fine.

Additional notes:

  • While I think there's a good chance Ginobili, Splitter, and Neal all re-sign with the Spurs, it's a virtual lock that DeJuan Blair will sign elsewhere. He and the team didn't exactly see eye-to-eye over the last year or two.
  • Considering the handful of overseas gems the Spurs have brought stateside over the years, it will be interesting to see if Nando De Colo and Aron Baynes take a step forward during their second year with the Spurs. Both players saw limited playing time in 2012/13, but remain under contract next season.
  • The Spurs' long-term cap flexibility is admirable — Green, Leonard, and Joseph will be in line to receive new contracts, and perhaps significant raises, in 2015/16. Currently, the Spurs have no money on their books for that season or beyond, meaning they shouldn't have any trouble re-signing all the players they want to keep.

Cap footnotes:

  1. If Bonner is not released on or before June 29th, his salary will become fully guaranteed.
  2. Ginobili's cap hold will be worth the maximum salary for a player with his experience (10+ years). That amount is not yet known — the number listed was 2012/13's max salary, so it figures to be a little higher than that.
  3. Splitter will be eligible for a qualifying offer worth $4,930,000.
  4. $1,116,099 is the amount of Neal's potential qualifying offer. If the Spurs don't extend a QO, Neal's cap hold will be reduced to $884,293.

Storytellers Contracts and Sham Sports were used in the creation of this post.

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4 thoughts on “Offseason Outlook: San Antonio Spurs

    • HoopsRumors

      Van Exel and the other long-gone players are listed here because they never signed anywhere else after leaving the Spurs as free agents, and the Spurs have never renounced them. They aren’t still getting a pay check from San Antonio or anything. When the Spurs have a chance to get under the cap and claim cap room, those guys will be renounced.

      — Luke

  1. Matt Galvin

    Still paying 2 Players that are Retired and one who is a Coach.

    • HoopsRumors

      Those guys aren’t actually being paid. The cap holds are just still on the books because the Spurs haven’t been below the cap in a long time, so there’s been no need to renounce them. When the Spurs DO want to spend money using cap space, they’ll renounce all those guys and get ’em off the books.

      — Luke


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