Rudy Gay

Spurs, Rudy Gay Have Mutual Interest In New Deal

Rudy Gay has transitioned from a top-flight scorer to a veteran mentor ready to take on whatever role is best for the team. The combo forward has been particularly helpful with the Spurs‘ young prospects.

“He’s a very outgoing individual,” coach Gregg Popovich said (via Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News). “He’s an easy teammate to be with, so he makes people feel comfortable. For young guys just starting out like Lonnie [Walker], it’s important to see the vets and be able to sit down and have a meal with them and laugh. [Gay] does that well.”

Gay appreciates how the organization has treated him and his family, and likes the city of San Antonio, Orsborn writes. Gay will be a free agent this offseason, but both he and the Spurs have a mutual interest in a new deal.

“We are hoping we can figure out a way to keep him here,” Popovich said.

San Antonio has a reputation for cohesiveness even as the franchise shuffles its roster. Gay said he has never experienced a unit as close as this year’s Spurs team.

“We had a lot of new pieces, played through a lot of adversity, the media saying we weren’t going to the playoffs,” he said. “We played through a lot. That forced us to be a tight team.”

Southwest Notes: Nene, Pelicans, Gay, Guards

Nene didn’t play in the Rockets first four playoff games but he saw action in the team’s closeout win over the Jazz and Game 1 loss to the Warriors, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes.

“It’s a man’s game and he’s a man,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Nene’s play. “He’s effective for limited minutes. We have to be careful with him because we like for him to last the whole time. But he was good.”

Nene only suited up in 42 games for the Rockets this season. He’s made all six of his attempts over the past two playoff games, giving Houston 22 minutes of solid play.

Here’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans have poached athletic trainer Aaron Nelson from the Suns, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports (Twitter link). Vice president of basketball operations David Griffin worked with Nelson while the two were in Phoenix together.
  • Rudy Gay is the only free agent of “significance” in San Antonio, Sean Deveney of Sporting News writes in his Spurs offseason preview, adding that Gay would like to stay with the Spurs on a “team-friendly” deal. The combo forward made slightly over $10MM this past season.
  • The Spurs could look to trade either Bryn Forbes of Marco Belinelli, Deveney contends in the same piece. The team has a logjam at their guard spots and both Dejounte Murray and Derrick White have too much upside for Spurs to think about moving either of them. Deveney also adds that coach Gregg Popovich, who’s expected to sign a new deal with San Antonio, values Patty Mills as a leader, making his departure unlikely.

Popovich Expected To Continue Coaching Spurs

Gregg Popovich is expected to return to the Spurs next season, with one member of the team’s staff telling Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express News that he has “no doubt” about the legendary coach’s future. Popovich’s current contract expired when San Antonio’s playoff run ended last night. He will coach Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer, but has remained guarded about his plans beyond that.

“I’m a head coach in the NBA,” Popovich said in response to a pre-game question Saturday on whether he was considering retirement. “I don’t think about what that means in the future.”

At age 70, Popovich still embraces the challenges of coaching and had a particularly good time this season, notes Jabari Young of The Athletic. In looking for clues about his future, Young cites a quote from Popovich before a March game in Boston.

“This is actually one of the more enjoyable seasons,” he said. “It’s been fun to watch Bryn Forbes develop, and Davis Bertans, and Derrick White and so forth. It’s satisfying.”

The chance to reach a milestone may also play into Popovich’s thought process. He moved into third place on the career victories list this season with 1,245 and is just 90 away from catching Don Nelson for the top spot.

There’s more on the offseason decisions facing the Spurs:

  • Rudy Gay will be the team’s only significant free agent this summer, but San Antonio has to decide how much it wants to invest in a player who will be 33 by the start of training camp. The Spurs will have Early Bird rights on Gay, Young notes, meaning they can offer up to a 75% raise on his $10MM contract. Gay will be eligible for a one- to four-year deal starting at about $17MM per season.
  • Regardless of what happens with Gay, San Antonio will likely be operating above the salary cap but under the tax line, Young adds. That will give the team a $9.2MM mid-level exception to use on the free agent market.
  • It’s not too early to start thinking about DeMar DeRozan‘s free agency, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. DeRozan can decide next summer to opt out of his $27.7 million salary for 2020/21, and could join Draymond Green and possibly Anthony Davis as the top names in an otherwise sub-par free agent class. The Spurs can eliminate that possibility by reworking DeRozan’s contract when he becomes eligible for a four-year, $149.1MM extension on July 6.
  • The Spurs also face a difficult decision on Dejounte Murray, who will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension through October 21, according to Marks. Murray appears to have a bright future, but he is coming off a torn ACL that wiped virtually his entire season. Jakob Poeltl is also eligible for a rookie scale extension, but by waiting on both players and DeRozan, the Spurs could have up to $30MM in cap room to spend next summer.
  • Patty Mills will be eligible for a veteran extension on August 4, and LaMarcus Aldridge becomes eligible on October 1, Marks adds.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southwest Division:

Dorian Finney-Smith, Mavericks, 25, SF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2016
The Mavericks can make Finney-Smith a restricted free agent by extending $1.93MM qualifying offer. That’s small change by NBA standards but there’s no guarantee they’ll do it. Finney-Smith has been a rotation player throughout his third season in the NBA with trades and injuries opening up playing time. He’s averaging 7.4 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 24.4 MPG and still hasn’t developed a 3-point shot (31.9%), though his defensive ratings are on the plus side. Finney-Smith seems like a second-unit player going forward, whether it’s with the Mavs or elsewhere.

Jonas Valanciunas, Grizzlies, 26, C (Up) — Signed to a four-year, $64MM deal in 2016
Valanciunas was putting up silly numbers with Memphis before a Grade 2 ankle sprain sidelined him for the remainder of the season. He was averaging 19.9 PPG, 10.7 RPG and 1.6 BPG in just 27.7 MPG in 19 games since being traded by the Raptors. Of course, it’s easier to do that on a bad team, but it certainly added an element of mystery to Valanciunas’ offseason plans. It seemed a safe bet that Valanciunas would exercise his player option for a guaranteed $17.6MM. He might choose now to test the market and gain long-term security, even if he makes a few million less next season.

Iman Shumpert, Rockets, 28, SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $40MM deal in 2015
Shumpert made his money with his current contract. He won’t be receiving any $11MM-per-year offers this summer. His 2017/18 season was a washout due to knee and foot injuries. He’s managed to stay on the court this season but his impact has been minimal. The Kings dealt him to Houston in a three-team trade in February and Shumpert has shot 29% from long range in 18 games with the Rockets. Shumpert’s 34% career average from deep is subpar and he’s never posted a PER above 12 in any season. He’ll likely be looking at veteran’s minimum offers this summer.

Stanley Johnson, Pelicans, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $12.85MM deal in 2015
Johnson was a colossal disappointment with the Pistons after a promising rookie campaign. A change of scenery, via a deadline trade, offered Johnson a fresh start. But he hasn’t been much better with New Orleans than he was in Detroit. Johnson’s strength is his perimeter defense and ability to guard a variety of positions, but he’s got to become more of an offensive threat for his career to blossom. The Pelicans can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $4.5MM qualify offer. One of the things their new GM must decide is whether to give the 22-year-old Johnson another year to improve his game.

Rudy Gay, Spurs, 32, PF (Up)– Signed to a one-year, $10.1MM deal in 2018
Quietly, Gay has delivered one of the best seasons of his career. His field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage are career highs. His rebounding average (6.8) is second only to his 7.4 mark in 2013/14, when he played 8.7 more minutes per game. His PER is a rock-solid 17.8. All the more impressive is that Gay tore his Achilles two seasons ago at age 30, an injury from which many players never fully recover. Gay may attract some interest from a contender seeking another veteran piece but the likely scenario is San Antonio rewarding him with a two- or three-year deal.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southwest Division:

Wesley Matthews, Mavericks, 32,  SG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $70MM deal in 2015
Matthews got off to a strong start, reaching the 20-point mark in six of the first 10 games. An injury set him back as a mild hamstring strain kept him out of four games. He’s shot 33% from 3-point range in the last two games since returning to action. There’s always a market for players who can make the long ball but at his age, Matthews is probably looking at a short-term deal in his next contract and might have to settle for a second-unit role.

Marquese Chriss, Rockets, 21, PF, (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $9.2MM deal in 2016
Chriss received a fresh start when the Suns traded him to a contender. So far, Chriss has failed to take advantage of the situation, even after the club decided to part ways with Carmelo Anthony. Chriss has only appeared in seven games and hasn’t played more than eight minutes in any of them. It’s hard to believe he was chosen with the No. 8 overall pick in 2016. Chriss is still younger than many college players, so he’ll get another chance somewhere else, but he’ll have to settle for a modest contract.

Shelvin Mack, Grizzlies, 28, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2018
The Grizzlies brought in Mack on a veteran’s minimum deal to back up Mike Conley. Mack has been a steady presence in the rotation, averaging 9.9 PPG and 3.6 APG while keeping his turnovers down (1.3 per game). He’s also shot it well from long range (41.8%). Mack isn’t flashy but he’s a competent second-unit floor leader and he might get more than one year on the open market next summer.

Nikola Mirotic, Pelicans, 27, PF (Up) — Signed to a two-year, $15MM deal in 2017
Mirotic made national headlines last season when Bulls teammate Bobby Portis slugged him during a practice dispute. Far removed from that incident, Mirotic is enjoying a career year with the Pelicans. He’s averaging 19.2 PPG and 10.5 RPG in 31.6 MPG. His 3-point percentage is down from last season but is still a solid 37%. Mirotic should receive plenty of attention on the open market as a stretch four who can also pound the glass.

Rudy Gay, Spurs, 32 (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $10MM deal in 2018
Gay had an ugly outing against Minnesota on Wednesday (three points in 19 minutes) but otherwise he’s been quite efficient this season. He’s shooting 49.2% from the field and 46.7% outside the arc and has also been a factor on the boards (7.1 per game). Gay has been thrust into a starting role with the injury-riddled Spurs but he’ll probably be looked upon as a second-unit contributor when he returns to the open market. He’s showing he still has something left in the tank.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Spurs’ Lonnie Walker IV To Undergo Knee Surgery

Spurs first-round pick Lonnie Walker IV will undergo surgery on Monday to repair a right medial meniscus tear, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The injury was suffered during the fourth quarter of San Antonio’s preseason victory over the Pistons on Friday.

The early timeframe for Walker’s recovery is 6-to-8 weeks, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Walker was expected to play a key bench role at small forward behind Rudy Gay. His injury, at least in the short run, opens up playing time for veterans  Dante Cunningham and Quincy Pondexter.

Walker was the 18th overall pick in the draft.

Rudy Gay Talks Health, DeRozan, Spurs’ Expectations

Although he was able to get back on the court last season after tearing his Achilles during the 2016/17 campaign, Rudy Gay never seemed to be fully at 100%. He was nagged by Achilles and heel issues, appearing in just 57 games in his first season for the Spurs.

Having re-signed with San Antonio though, Gay is feeling better as the 2018/19 season approaches, telling Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News that “everything is clicking” and that he feels “athletic again.”

Gay spoke a little more about his health and also touched on several other Spurs-related topics in his conversation with Orsborn, so let’s round up a few highlights from the veteran forward…

On his offseason workouts:

“I’ve been working hard, man. I lost about five pounds. Last year was a little bit of a struggle for me, so I tried to alleviate that by taking the weight off my feet by losing a couple of pounds through working out and eating better. It’s now or never right now for me.”

On how DeMar DeRozan, unhappy about being traded by the Raptors, will fit right in with the Spurs:

“That’s the thing about this whole team – everybody has a chip on his shoulder. His is just more publicized. But, look, I’m healthy (and have something to prove), LaMarcus (Aldridge) always finds someway to have a chip on his shoulder. Jakob (Poeltl) wants to prove he can be a great player. DJ (Dejounte Murray) has a chip on his shoulder because he wants to be known as one of the best at his position.

“I think we have a great mix of guys, a great basketball team. (Spurs GM) R.C. (Buford) put together a great team. It will be fun to watch.”

On his quick decision to re-sign with the Spurs in free agency:

“I always knew I wanted to come back. When I opted out, I felt like I had options. But the best option was to just stay where I was at.”

On modest expectations for the Spurs, who have an over/under of 43.5 wins on the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas:

“Nobody expects us to be good. I don’t know why. … Why were we expected to be so much better last year? Because Kawhi (Leonard) may have come back? He didn’t, and we were still a playoff team, really a couple of wins away from being a third or fourth seed in the West.

“They don’t have many expectations for us. But the Spurs always exceed the expectations. Don’t expect anything less this year.”

Southwest Notes: Ginobili, Gay, A. Davis, Powell

Manu Ginobili will likely play at least one more season, but it won’t be because he’s chasing another title, writes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News. Ginobili has been to the playoffs in all of his 16 seasons with the Spurs, but that’s no longer a guarantee with Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker both gone. Instead, like fellow elder statesmen Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, Ginobili is motivated by his love for the game.

San Antonio expects Ginobili to make an official announcement soon on social media, but Finger notes that he dropped fewer hints about retirement during 2017/18 than he did in past seasons. He is under contract for one more season at $2.5MM.

Finger cites an old quote from Ginobili, who turned 41 today, that “the outcome isn’t everything.” A desire to keep playing, rather than a quest to add to his legacy, will be the prime motivator if he decides to return to the NBA.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Re-signing Rudy Gay for another season at $10MM was the Spurs‘ best move in free agency, according to Rob Wolkenbrod of Forbes. The addition of DeMar DeRozan should take some of the scoring load off Gay, who ranked second on the team in points per game last season. He also gets another year to prove he’s fully recovered from a 2017 Achilles injury before testing the market again next summer.
  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis chose not to appeal to GM Dell Demps to keep free agent DeMarcus Cousins, tweets Andrew Doak of WWL-TV in New Orleans. An endorsement from Davis would have carried some weight, but he liked the way the team played — and the locker room atmosphere — better without Cousins, Doak adds.
  • Dwight Powell believes a playoff spot is realistic for the Mavericks in light of their offseason moves, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Powell became a big fan of first-round pick Luka Doncic after working out with him during summer league play in Las Vegas. “He’s a great kid and you can tell he knows the game and can shoot,” Powell said. “And he’s bigger than I expected. You hear about some [international] guys saying they are such-and-such a height and they come over and it’s not necessarily the case. But he’s a big boy. He’s going to do well for us. He’s going to have a lot of ability to see the floor for us and take command of the offense when it’s time.”

DeMar DeRozan Discusses Trade, Ujiri, Raptors

Outside of some cryptic – and not-so-cryptic – social media posts, DeMar DeRozan had been relatively quiet over the last week since word broke that he’d be traded from the Raptors to the Spurs. However, various reports, along with those social media posts, suggested that DeRozan wasn’t thrilled with the deal, which caught him by surprise.

ESPN’s Chris Haynes caught up with the longtime Toronto star to discuss the deal and to address the perception that DeRozan had been told he wouldn’t be traded. The conversation is a good one, and is worth checking out in full for a number of interesting stories and comments from DeRozan, who talked about his place in Raptors history, his expectations for playing under Gregg Popovich, and how friends like Kyle Lowry and Drake reacted to the deal.

Here are a few of the other highlights from DeRozan’s conversation with Haynes:

On Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri saying of the previous iteration of the Raptors, “We kept giving them a chance and giving them a chance. At some point, we have to do something different”:

“I mean, when you say ‘them,’ that’s kind of frustrating. Like, who is ‘them’? You put the blame on just me and (Dwane) Casey? Because obviously we are the only two who had to suffer from the loss that we had in the Cleveland series.

“But it’s only one team that we lost to in the postseason — and that team went to the Finals every single year. With an opportunity approaching itself, my mindset and the rest of my teammates’ mindset was the only guy who was in the way of making that happen (LeBron James) leaves. Now we got a great opportunity to do something that we haven’t been able to do.

“At the end of the day, I gave everything I had to that team. And it showed, it showed in the progress we made as a team and me as an individual. So when you put that out there saying ‘gave them chances’ and ‘I have to do something’… It’s B.S. to me.”

On how he felt he was treated by Ujiri and the organization:

“I felt like I wasn’t treated with what I sacrificed for nine years, with the respect that I thought I deserved. By just giving me the say so of letting me know something’s going on or it’s a chance. That’s all I wanted. That’s all I wanted. I’m not saying, ‘You don’t have to trade me’ or … just let me know something is going on because I sacrificed everything. Just let me know. That’s all I asked. Everybody know I’m the most low-maintenance person in the world. Just let me know, so I can prepare myself for whatever my next chapter is, and I didn’t get that.”

On whether DeRozan had asked the team if he’d be traded:

“I asked, ‘Was I going to be traded? Was there anything going on, if it was a chance I’d be traded?’ And on multiple occasions it was, ‘No, it was nothing.’ If it is, then let the agent know or me know.”

On talking to Spurs forward Rudy Gay shortly after finding out about the trade:

“I was upset. And I called him, like, ‘Man, dude’s just traded me.’ Rudy was like ‘What? To who?’ And I was like ‘To y’all.’ He started laughing. He said ‘Look, I don’t mean to lie, but I got my boy back. You gon’ be aight, man. don’t worry about it.’ I was like, ‘Man, I shouldn’t have called you. I should have waited until it came out and you called me.’ It was cool to be able to call somebody that’s close in my life that’s on the Spurs too. So he made it easy.”

Contract Details: Smart, Gay, Grant, Ilyasova

Marcus Smart‘s new deal with the Celtics will increase in value each season, beginning with an approximate salary of $11.7MM in 2018/19 and ending with a salary of nearly $14.4MM in 2021/22, per Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.

The total value of the contract is $51,999,900, $100 shy of the reported value of $52MM, and it is fully guaranteed with no options.

Here are a few more details on contracts signed this summer, courtesy of Pincus:

  • The Spurs agreement with Rudy Gay is worth $10,087,200, the highest allowable salary San Antonio was permitted to pay him via his non-Bird rights (Twitter link).
  • Ersan Ilyasova‘s new deal with the Bucks will pay him an even $7MM over three seasons, with a yet-to-be determined guarantee amount and date on year three.
  • The agreement between Jerami Grant and the Thunder is worth just shy of $27.4MM, with a player option valued at approximately $9.3MM for the 2020/21 season.