San Antonio Spurs

Andre Iguodala Nearly Signed With Rockets In Free Agency

An eventful series of free agent meetings in July had Andre Iguodala on the verge of signing with the Rockets before the Warriors swooped in and met his demands at the last minute, Chris Haynes writes in a fascinating piece for ESPN.com.

Back on July 1, we heard that Iguodala was expected to circle back to Golden State after getting an offer he liked from Houston, but Haynes goes into far more detail in describing the process that got Iguodala to that point. Here are a few highlights from the ESPN report:

  • As free agency opened, the Warriors increased their initial offer for Iguodala to $42MM over three years, with a partial guarantee in year three, according to Haynes. However, the swingman wasn’t satisfied with Golden State’s pitch and opted to take meetings with several suitors rather than accepting the Dubs’ offer.
  • The Lakers were the first team to speak with Iguodala, but as was the case throughout free agency, L.A. only offered one year, aiming to preserve 2018 cap room. The Lakers’ one-year offer was worth $20MM, per Haynes.
  • Iguodala met with the Spurs next, and San Antonio offered a fully guaranteed four-year deal. The Spurs only had their mid-level exception to offer, meaning they couldn’t offer more than about $36MM, but Iguodala – who likes being involved in the tech world – was intrigued by the team’s proximity to Austin.
  • The Kings met with Iguodala next and, armed with about $43MM in cap room, essentially asked him to name his price — within reason. If Iguodala named a price that Sacramento was willing to match, the Kings wanted a commitment on the spot, according to Haynes. Not wanting to commit right away, the 33-year-old held off on specifics, but recognized that Sacramento likely had the means to offer him the most money.
  • The Rockets were the next team to make a pitch to Iguodala, and one source within his camp called it “the best recruiting presentation of all time,” per Haynes. Houston was limited to its mid-level exception, but president of basketball operations Daryl Morey began proposing “lucrative sign-and-trade scenarios like a mad scientist” in an effort to meet Iguodala’s demands. Following the meeting with the Rockets, Iguodala cancelled his remaining meetings, including sit-downs with the Sixers, Clippers, Timberwolves, and Jazz, and there was “a strong sentiment that he was Houston-bound.”
  • Iguodala decided to meet one last time with the Warriors, though he expected to use the meeting as an opportunity to say goodbye, sources tell Haynes. Golden State offered a fully guaranteed three-year, $45MM deal, but Iguodala wasn’t budging from his asking price of $16MM per year, and intended to sign with the Rockets if Golden State didn’t meet that demand.
  • Shortly after Iguodala’s meeting with the Warriors ended, GM Bob Myers went to team owner Joe Lacob to ask for a little more money, and received approval to offer $48MM over three years, which was enough to bring Iguodala back into the fold.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Moore, Long, Cunningham

The Rockets enter the 2017/18 campaign with last season’s Most Valuable Player runner-up in James Harden and offseason acquisition Chris Paul, widely viewed as one of the greatest point guards ever. A deal for Carmelo Anthony has not materialized but Houston is still an improved team, David Aldridge of NBA.com writes.

Aside from the acquisition of Paul, the Rockets have been in headlines all offseason. Tilman Fertitta purchased the Rockets for $2.2 billion, Hurricane Harvey hit the city of Houston hard, and even to this point, Anthony to Houston rumors persist. Nonetheless, head coach Mike D’Antoni believes his team is in prime position for success.

“The biggest advantage is for 48 minutes we have a Hall of Fame point guard (either Harden or Paul) on the floor. That’s huge,” D’Antoni said. “And both of them can play off the ball real well, they’re both great shooters, and both can exploit the defense when the ball is kicked … whoever initiates it would normally finish it, but if they have to kick the ball over to the other guy, they’ll finish it.”

Aldridge also breaks down the team chemistry heading into the season and expectations for a team that won 55 games last season.

Below you can read additional notes around the Southwest Division:

NBA’s Board Of Governors To Examine Revenue Sharing System

ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst have published an expansive and well-researched report on NBA teams’ finances, providing details on the league’s revenue sharing system, the impact from national and local television deals, and how a lack of net income for NBA franchises could push the league toward considering relocation or expansion.

The report is wide-ranging and detailed, so we’re going to tackle it by dividing it up into several sections, but it’s certainly worth reading in full to get a better picture of whether things stand in the NBA. Let’s dive in…

Which teams are losing money?

  • Nine teams reportedly lost money last season, even after revenue sharing. Those clubs were the Hawks, Nets, Pistons, Grizzlies, Magic, Wizards, Bucks, Cavaliers, and Spurs. The latter two teams – Cleveland and San Antonio – initially came out ahead, but paid into the league’s revenue sharing program, pushing them into the red.
  • Meanwhile, the Hornets, Kings, Pacers, Pelicans, Suns, Timberwolves, and Trail Blazers also would have lost money based on net income if not for revenue sharing, according to Lowe and Windhorst.
  • As a league, the NBA is still doing very well — the overall net income for the 30 teams combined was $530MM, per ESPN. That number also only takes into account basketball income, and doesn’t include income generated via non-basketball events for teams that own their arenas.
  • The players’ union and its economists have long been skeptical of NBA teams’ bookkeeping, alleging that clubs are using techniques to make themselves appear less profitable than they actually are, Windhorst and Lowe note. The union has the power to conduct its own audit of several teams per season, and it has begun to take advantage of that power — according to ESPN, the union audited five teams last season, and the new CBA will allow up to 10 teams to be audited going forward.

How does the gap between large and small market teams impact income?

  • Even after paying $49MM in revenue sharing, the Lakers finished the 2016/17 with a $115MM profit in terms of net income, per ESPN. That was the highest profit in the NBA, ahead of the second-place Warriors, and could be attributed in large part to the $149MM the Lakers received from their huge local media rights deals.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the Grizzlies earned a league-low $9.4MM in local media rights, which significantly affected their bottom line — even after receiving $32MM in revenue sharing, Memphis lost money for the season. The Grizzlies will start a new TV deal this year that should help boost their revenue, but it still won’t come anywhere close to matching deals like the Lakers‘.
  • The biggest local TV deals help drive up the NBA’s salary cap, with teams like the Lakers and Knicks earning in excess of $100MM from their media agreements. According to the ESPN report, the Knicks made $10MM more on their TV deal than the six lowest-earning teams combined.
  • As one owner explained to ESPN, “National revenues drive up the cap, but local revenues are needed to keep up with player salaries. If a team can’t generate enough local revenues, they lose money.”
  • Playoff revenue from a big-market team like the Warriors also helps push up the salary cap. Sources tell Lowe and Windhorst that Golden State made about $44.3MM in net income from just nine home playoff games last season, more than doubling the playoff revenue of the next-best team (the Cavaliers at about $20MM).

How is revenue sharing affecting teams’ earnings?

  • Ten teams paid into the NBA’s revenue sharing system in 2016/17, with 15 teams receiving that money. The Sixers, Raptors, Nets, Heat, and Mavericks neither paid nor received any revenue sharing money. Four teams – the Warriors, Lakers, Bulls, and Knicks – accounted for $144MM of the total $201MM paid in revenue sharing.
  • While there’s general agreement throughout the NBA that revenue sharing is working as intended, some teams have “bristled about the current scale of monetary redistribution,” according to ESPN. “The need for revenue sharing was supposed to be for special circumstances, not permanent subsidies,” one large-market team owner said.
  • The Grizzlies, Hornets, Pacers, Bucks, and Jazz have each received at least $15MM apiece in each of the last four years via revenue sharing.
  • However, not all small-market teams receive revenue-sharing money — if a team outperforms its expectations based on market size, it forfeits its right to that money. For instance, the Thunder and Spurs have each paid into revenue sharing for the last six years.

Why might league-wide income issues lead to relocation or expansion?

  • At least one team owner has raised the idea of expansion, since an expansion fee for a new franchise could exceed $1 billion and it wouldn’t be subject to splitting 50/50 with players. A $1 billion expansion fee split 30 ways would work out to $33MM+ per team.
  • Meanwhile, larger-market teams who aren’t thrilled about their revenue-sharing fees have suggested that small-market clubs losing money every year should consider relocating to bigger markets, sources tell ESPN.
  • As Lowe and Windhorst observe, the Pistons – who lost more money than any other team last season – are undergoing a relocation of sorts, moving from the suburbs to downtown Detroit, in the hopes that the move will help boost revenue.

What are the next steps? Are changes coming?

  • The gap between the most and least profitable NBA teams is expected to be addressed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting next week, per Lowe and Windhorst. Team owners have scheduled a half-day review of the league’s revenue sharing system.
  • Obviously, large- and small-market teams view the issue differently. While some large-market teams have complained about the revenue sharing system, they’re outnumbered, with smaller-market teams pushing those more successful clubs to share more of their profits, according to ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen is one of the loudest voices pushing for more “robust” revenue sharing, sources tell ESPN. Some team owners have argued that the system should ensure all teams make a profit, while one even suggested every team should be guaranteed a $20MM profit. There will be “pushback” on those ideas, Lowe and Windhorst note. “This is a club where everyone knows the rules when they buy in,” one owner said.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, some teams have floated the idea of limiting the amount of revenue sharing money a team can receive if it has been taking payments for several consecutive years.
  • Any change to the revenue sharing system that is formally proposed at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting would require a simple majority (16 votes to 14) to pass.

Rudy Gay 'A Spur For Life'

  • Rudy Gay hasn’t played a game yet for San Antonio, but he already calls himself “a Spur for life,” relays Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News. Gay agreed to a two-year, $17MM contract this summer that contains an $8.8MM player option for next season, but he sounds fully committed to San Antonio. “I think it was a do-or-die point in my career,” said Gay, who is coming off an Achilles injury that ended his season in January. “I wanted to be with an organization that was known for winning and can help me raise my game to the next level.”

Rudy Gay Bets On Self In 2017/18

  • After tearing his Achilles last season, Rudy Gay is betting on himself to salvage his career with the Spurs. The forward signed for $17M over two seasons but could opt out of his 2018/19 commitment to pursue a more lucrative offer if he earns one after this year, Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News writes.

Rudy Gay "Feeling Great," Cleared For Baskeball Activities

  • Less than eight months after tearing his Achilles, Rudy Gay has been cleared for all basketball activities and is ready to begin his first season with the Spurs, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. As McDonald notes, it remains to be seen how long it will take Gay to get back to full strength, but the veteran forward is optimistic. “I’m feeling great,” Gay told reporters on Wednesday. “I know a lot of people say that. I don’t think you’d expect me to say anything else. But I actually feel great.”

Spurs Sign Darrun Hilliard To Two-Way Contract

The Spurs have filled the second two-way player opening on their roster, announcing today in a press release that they’ve signed free agent swingman Darrun Hilliard to a two-way contract. San Antonio previously signed big man Matt Costello to the club’s first-ever two-way deal.

Hilliard, 24, was involved in several NBA roster moves this summer, including being included in one of the biggest trades of the offseason. A Piston to end the 2016/17 campaign, Hilliard was sent to the Rockets in a June swap, then flipped to the Clippers as part of the package Houston traded for Chris Paul. The Clippers waived Hilliard to avoid having his salary for 2017/18 become guaranteed.

A former 38th overall pick, Hilliard appeared in 77 games for the Pistons over the last two seasons, playing sparingly. He also appeared in seven total games for the Grand Rapids Drive, Detroit’s G League affiliate, averaging 24.4 PPG in those contests. The Villanova alum added some national experience to his professional résumé this summer, earning a spot on the Team USA squad that won a gold medal at the FIBA AmeriCup earlier this month.

With Hilliard officially locked up, the Spurs now have 18 players under contract — 16 on NBA deals and a pair of two-way players. That leaves two openings on San Antonio’s 20-man offseason roster.

Poll: San Antonio Spurs’ 2017/18 Win Total

While many of the NBA’s top would-be threats to the Warriors made blockbuster deals this summer – including last week’s Cavs/Celtics swap and Houston’s Chris Paul acquisition – the Spurs had a quieter offseason.

There were rumblings as free agency approached that San Antonio would look to create cap room in order to make a run at Paul or another notable veteran, but the Spurs ultimately didn’t make major changes.

Pau Gasol, Patty Mills, and Manu Ginobili got new deals from the club, and the most significant outside acquisition was Rudy Gay, who continues to recover from a season-ending Achilles tear. Other new additions include Joffrey Lauvergne and Derrick White, who are unlikely to make a huge impact for the Spurs in 2017/18.

A lack of high-profile trades or signings – along with the departures of rotation players Jonathon Simmons and Dewayne Dedmon – have oddsmakers projecting a slight dip in the standings for the Spurs this season. Coming off a 61-21 record last season, the Spurs have an over/under of 54.5 wins for 2017/18, according to offshore betting site Bovada.

What do you think? Despite their underwhelming offseason, will the Spurs continue to exceed expectations, or should we expect to see San Antonio’s win total fall off a little this season? Vote in our poll and then jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

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Previous over/under voting results:

Tony Parker Could Be Back ‘A Lot Sooner’ Than Expected

Injured point guard Tony Parker, currently forecast to return from a quadriceps injury in January, could be returning to action sooner than previously anticipated, Jeff Garcia of News 4 San Antonio writes.

Citing Spurs teammate Danny Green, who gave an interview with French publication LCI at an NBA 2K promotional event, Garcia relays that the guard could be back in the lineup earlier than anticipated.

In the one-on-one interview (conducted in English and subtitled for the French audience), Green speaks candidly about the 35-year-old’s recovery process thus far, not only suggesting that Parker’s rehab is on pace but that the guard could even be well ahead of schedule.

He’s a couple months ahead of schedule, I don’t want to leak anything, but he might be playing a lot sooner than people think he might be playing. […] You’ll probably be seeing him playing a lot sooner than what most people are expecting him to be back by,” Green said.

As has been discussed since he went down in the second round of the playoffs last spring, any extended absence leaves the Spurs short at point guard. When the regular season tips off in October, it’s likely that a combination of Patty Mills and sophomore Dejounte Murray holds down the fort at the position until Parker can reclaim the reins.

If that comes “months sooner” than January, all the better for a Spurs team chasing the Warriors for Western Conference supremacy. Worth noting, however, is that despite Green’s optimistic outlook, Parker himself claimed to be four to five months away from returning to action as recently as last month.

Bertans Injures Finger, But It's Not Broken

  • Spurs forward Davis Bertans suffered a finger injury in Latvia’s loss to Serbia during the Eurobasket tournament, Kurt Helin of NBCSports.com tweets. Bertans’ finger isn’t broken, according to X-rays, so it shouldn’t affect his status for the NBA’s regular season.
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