June 17, 2014

What do the Spurs need to do for 2014-15?

Before the NBA Finals were even done, there was plenty of talk about the Miami Heat needing to upgrade its Big Three to a Big Four, with Carmelo Anthony coming to Miami on a max contract — IF the Big Three of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade would all exercise their contract opt-out rights and come back for less, and other players would adjust their contracts as needed.

But, the San Antonio Spurs have their own needs, with several free agents, including Boris Diaw, Matt Bonner, and Patty Mills top the list.

Assuming Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are down with rejoining coach Gregg Popovich for one more run, which Tony Parker says will be the case, the next question is, how much will it cost for the other players?

Since Kawhi Leonard is the future of the Spurs, and with just one year on his contract, you have to keep him at any reasonable cost, and plan this offseason's resigning of in-house free agents in line with that. The Spurs have July 1-Oct. 31 to do an extension. I think, rather than a full four years, both sides will agree to extend 2015 by two years, with more money for next year, plus the two years beyond. Look for three years at, say, 5/7/8 on the yearly millions. That still gives Leonard, in a post-Duncan world, plenty of years to do two full-bore free agent contracts. Bonner? If you're lucky, he'll accept a "for the team" cut from $3M to 2.5. Diaw, you hope will resign for not more than $5M, compared to this year's $4.7. Neither Bonner nor Diaw should get more than two years. And, if NBA rules allow it, tearing up Leonard's current contract and giving him a two-year extension at $5M per would be good.

Mills? He's gone, Spurs fans, in all likelihood. He reinvented and rejuvenated himself, and has already made noise about wanting to start somewhere. So, Pops and R.C. Buford have to ask if they're comfortable going back to Cory Joseph as Parker's backup or not. The Spurs have the option of giving Marco Belinelli the keys to the second unit. Given that both Joseph and Belinelli are in the last year of contracts, I suspect there's going to be some strong preseason competition set up by Pops.

Danny Green has one year left. It's his chance to show how much he can improve as a dribbler and a passer.

So, the Spurs' goals? Resign Bonner and Diaw. Look for some filler option as a swingman or an inside banger. See if Joseph and/or Belinelli can pick up a reasonable part of the Mills slack.

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