It's safe to say that the NBA postseason has been quite the discussion filler.
But, as fans anxiously await the start of the Spurs' second series, it's appropriate to take a quick breather from the intense playoff action and look ahead to the 2014 offseason.
Though San Antonio often keeps its head out of the rumor mill, the team certainly won't be inactive over the summer. As they have in the past, the Spurs should be expected to pull off a series of under-the-radar transactions that guarantee that the squad will maintain its competitive edge that it has demonstrated over the course of the season.
Re-signing Outgoing Players
In previous years, the Spurs' activity in the free-agent market has been minimal. Much of their cap room is used to re-sign internal contracts with the leftover cash utilized on a solid role player.
This offseason should follow a similar path. Patty Mills, Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner will hit the market, while Aron Baynes will be a restricted free agent. They newly acquired Austin Daye is currently under contract with a team option going forward.
From the group, the first two are undoubtedly the talents that need to be retained.
Diaw, who joined the Spurs in mid-2012 after being released by the Charlotte Bobcats, likely won't be looking for much fluctuation in his salary of $4.7 million. Though he enjoyed a fantastic campaign, he is no longer an up-and-comer, making it unlikely that teams will overpay for him.
With Diaw, the team should not hesitate to reach out and renew his deal. Having contributed to the team's success in every sphere of the game, Diaw is a unique player who fits the Spurs system perfectly.
Re-signing Mills, on the other hand, won't be a walk in the park. His current contract barely exceeds $1 million, and after a watershed campaign in which his weight loss was accompanied by an overall increase in production, teams will certainly be willing to extend a large package to the young point guard.
That said, San Antonio—again—should not hesitate to re-claim their most improved player. Having transformed into a bench spark, elite shooter and superb backup, Mills has established himself as a capable rotation player.
With a cap increase of $5 million on its way, as well as $4 million coming off the books due to the outgoing Bonner—who, despite leaving a lasting legacy as a fan favorite, looks to be concluding his final season in black and silver—San Antonio should have the necessary funds to retain Mills, who will be an important part of its franchise going forward.
Fortunately, San Antonio has both Diaw and Mills' Bird rights, making it easier for the team to retain its contracts while allowing it to pay them a well-earned salary.
If the team does let Bonner walk, San Antonio will have the roster space necessary to make a new acquisition.
However, the Spurs won't have a substantial amount of cap space, having just the remaining cash after they re-sign Mills and Diaw, as well as the mid-level exception. Of course, depending on how much the team is willing to exceed the cap, it could use the Bird rights of Mills to offer someone a larger deal.
Still, the type of player that the Spurs will search for will likely be a role player. As to what role he'll play, however, is less certain.
Currently, the team's backcourt situation is set. Overflowing with talent, the guard pool needs anything but a new face.
Beyond there, though, there's room for debate.
As of now, the team's big man situation is a bit rocky. While Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter and Boris Diaw form a talented trio capable of carrying the slack on a nightly basis, the team lacks a fourth big man capable of playing significant minutes in an important contest.
When they make a deal, though, the Spurs shouldn't rule out a short-term option. With Tiago Splitter currently the only player under contract for the 2015-16 season, the Spurs shouldn't wrap themselves up in a hefty multi-year deal that could hamper what might potentially be a big spending year.
Chris Kaman catches some attention, as he fits the bill as a veteran big man who can rebound and score inside. His price tag should fall within their range, and he'll maintain a presence without costing the Spurs anything significant.
Jordan Hill and Spencer Hawes also have semi-attractive names, with Hill embodying the stereotypical muscle big inside while Hawes' shooting ability and above-average passing skills make him a good fit in the Spurs system.
If the team looks to go the smaller route, Al-Farouq Aminu could command a stretch 4 role while also providing support behind Kawhi Leonard at the 3. That said, it would be wiser to pursue a big considering the number of shooting guards who can fill time at the other wing position.
Overall, Hawes is probably the most interesting option. He's a smart player, and while his defense has been scrutinized, he possesses a versatile offensive game that would mesh beautifully with the Spurs' high-speed ball movement. His presence on the boards shouldn't be overlooked either.
Whoever they choose, though, the team should look to add a frontcourt presence who won't limit its possibilities in the subsequent offseason.
The draft should be the domain in which the Spurs remain the most quiet.
As mentioned, the team currently has few open spots, and with a win-now mindset, it would be ideal if it utilized them on an experienced free agent who could contribute out of the gate.
Unless general manager R.C. Buford finds a prospect he absolutely adores, the common sense option for San Antonio would be to go overseas with its first-round pick.
The Spurs currently have a handful of players developing overseas, and it appears as though Davis Bertans and Adam Hanga will be the first to make the jump—whenever that may be.
The draft currently features four foreign big men—Jusuf Nurkic, Clint Capela, Walter Tavares and Ondrej Balvin—who may very well fall to the Spurs' pick, and as raw, but talented stash options, each should be on the Spurs' radar.
The stash-and-wait route has worked with post players in the past—see Splitter, Tiago—and, with San Antonio's impressive scouting record, it would be wise for both its present and future to try it again.
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