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The Spurs have some decisions to make this summer.
Having taken a team as dominant as Miami seven games in the Finals, there's nothing so broken here that major fixing is in order. All the same, this roster could be better. As far as it's gotten on account of all that rock-pounding, the thought of San Antonio adding some talent has to have the rest of the league a bit concerned—especially given the money with which it has to do so.
No, GM R.C. Buford hasn't been all that inclined to make splashy offseason moves historically, but if there were ever a time for a splash, this may be it. If there were ever a time for an organization that's eschewed star power to sell out and pay up, Spurs fans will gladly trade their admirable history of small-market team building for a legitimate difference-maker.
Landing such a name, however, could mean parting ways with several members of the Spurs' status quo. DeJuan Blair has had one foot out the door for some time, and the other foot will almost certainly follow suit now that he's a free agent. Despite his obvious talent, the undersized power forward just hasn't been able to stick in a rotation that desperately needs size and spacing.
Will Blair be the only Spur moving on, or could we have a minor exodus on our hands?
If Ginobili retires or otherwise returns on the cheap, the Spurs' most expensive in-house question automatically becomes Splitter. Though the 28-year-old Brazillian easily had the best of his three NBA campaigns in San Antonio, there are some good reasons to believe he won't return.
As valuable as he was against the Lakers and Grizzlies' oversized lineups, he wasn't much more than a really tall paperweight against a Heat team that opted to go small over the course of the Finals.
More importantly, Splitter leaves something to be desired in at least a couple of key respects. His scoring ability is limited primarily to converting pick-and-roll opportunities and tossing in baby-hooks from around the paint. His defense is sound, but not particularly impactful. Without a midrange game to speak of or a penchant for rim protection, Splitter is a second-rate center sometimes made to look like more thanks to San Antonio's system.
Making Splitter a restricted free agent (and retaining the right to match other teams' offer) would require the organization to extend him a qualifying offer worth nearly $6 million, an offer it would automatically owe him in the event another team doesn't present a better deal.
That kind of money would put a serious crimp in San Antonio's ability to import premium free-agent talent, especially if it's committing anything more than $5 million to Ginobili. Unless Buford & Co. are convinced those first-tier free agents will sign elsewhere, they'll save their money and wish Splitter all the best.
If San Antonio decides the price is right for Neal, it could have a lot to do with Ginobili's decision. If Manu retires, Neal reasons to be an affordable sixth-man solution. The consummate marksman had his moments in the Finals, and he's steadily diversified his game to include a knack for off-balance mid-range shots and floaters that'd make Tony Parker proud.
Like Splitter, the Spurs will owe Neal a qualifying offer if they want to maintain his restricted free agent status. Unlike Splitter, though, Neal's qualifying offer is just a little over a million bucks, a wise investment in the midst of uncertainty.
That said, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Neal command a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $10-12 million (total). Beyond the Ginobili variable, willingness to pay up will depend on whether San Antonio shows any interest in pricier alternatives like J.J. Redick.
Life without the Red Mamba? Say it ain't so.
San Antonio could bring Bonner back for about $4 million, but it's hard to imagine them doing so if it comes at the expense of adding more important pieces to the rotation. The sharp-shooting spread-four faded in and out of that rotation throughout the playoffs, making valuable but isolated contributions.
Spurs games wouldn't be the same without Bonner's Pop-worthy sense of humor, but it just might be time for the organization to find another fitting role for him on the bench—one involving a suit and a clipboard.