San Antonio Spurs: Any Offer for Tiago Splitter Must Be Matched

Joshua J Vannuccini@@jjvannucciniSenior Analyst IIIFebruary 27, 2013

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 30:  Tiago Splitter #22 of the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Center on December 30, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

With the NBA Trade Deadline now passed, teams can focus on the offseason for roster movement. The San Antonio Spurs will have a few free agents to re-sign, most importantly Tiago Splitter. His play has been stellar this season, and he should be considered the future big man of this franchise.

With Tim Duncan's 37th birthday coming in April, the Spurs should begin to evaluate talent for Duncan's inevitable retirement. Tony Parker will turn 31 in May, thus the window of this legendary core will begin to close. Splitter should be the first block in this rebuilding process. 

He's averaging 10.5 points and 5.8 rebounds this season, starting 36 of 58 games. Splitter is also shooting 59.5 percent from the field and 74.2 percent from the foul line. All in all, this is very solid production from a player getting just 23.8 minutes a night.

Splitter has shown the capability of being a double-double player on a consistent basis this year. While he's had none this month, he did register four in January, highlighted by a 14-point, 14-rebound output versus the Los Angeles Lakers. Splitter narrowly missed making it six double-doubles, as he snatched nine rebounds in two straight games.

While a case can be made for Splitter statistically, he's also well versed in the Spurs' system. Currently in his third season in San Antonio, Splitter is familiar with the coaching staff and their offensive and defensive principles. Any new player could learn the system, but having a forward that is already knowledgeable is more convenient.

Splitter has much to develop in his game, most specifically broadening his offensive game. He's attempting 83.3 percent of his shots from the restricted area, which is the section of the paint directly beneath the basket. He then takes 14.6 percent in the paint, and just 1.8 percent from mid-range.

While Splitter is a very skilled pick-and-roll player (73 percent), adding a jump shot would help expand his game and limit defensive pressure on his teammates. However, it is not a condition of his development, but rather a luxury the Spurs could benefit from.

Regardless of Duncan's decisions down the road, Splitter must be re-signed this offseason. He is a restricted free agent, meaning San Antonio can match any offer he receives from another team.

The Spurs shouldn't even allow Splitter to sign an offer sheet with the opposition, and instead get his signature outright on July 1—the first day teams can provide contracts to free agents.