Oooooh. Ugh. Ouch.
Buford probably follows those woebegone cries with a stiff drink each time he realizes his team owes Richard Jefferson more than $30 million over the next three seasons.
Even the smartest guys in the room make massive mistakes. The front office and Gregg Popovich will have to live with this one. No executive with a functioning brain will assume the burden of that albatross contract after Jefferson's disappearing act in the first round flameout against the Memphis Grizzlies.
This explains why Buford has listened to trade proposals involving Parker. I promise to address the point guard I call the "Parisian paint piranha."
As much as the front office might love to unload a bandied about trade acquisition gone acrid, logic dictates Jefferson must stay for now. Maybe, as San Antonio Express-News columnist Buck Harvey suggested, Popovich can teach the lost forward "the art of competing."
The Spurs will head to training camp with at least 10 players signed to guaranteed deals. That number assumes Antonio McDyess follows through on his announced plans to retire. Steve Novak and Chris Quinn, emergency rentals that played sparingly, should not encounter much resistance from management if they desire another NBA home.
Quinn and Novak were not awful (Novak even sparked a home victory against the Charlotte Bobcats with his dead-eye shooting), but San Antonio should look to upgrade from those bit benchwarmers.
As one would assume, Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili occupy more than 70 percent of the team's cap space. Do the math yourself if you want an exact figure. Even if McDyess retires, the Spurs still owe him a few million bucks.
Buford guaranteed a portion of the deal's final year as an extra gift to entice the coveted forward to sign with San Antonio.
Matt Bonner is the team's highest paid role player. The organization will shell out more than $10 million for the Red Rocket's services through 2014. This writer still considers him a useful bargain.
Gary Neal, George Hill and DeJuan Blair still play on rookie-scale contracts. Buford will face tough decisions in coming offseasons, but he can worry less about the futures of those key contributors now.
Without adding Parker's extension, which kicks in this year, the franchise's payroll tops $57 million. That means wistful fans should forget about the gobs of cap space necessary to make a significant free agency splash. If intriguing college scorer De'Sean Butler rehabilitates himself and impresses enough to secure a roster spot, his contract will factor in calculating Holt's tab. Danny Green should net at least a training camp invite.
Buford can snatch a veteran or two whenever the market opens, but stop dreaming about Marc Gasol or Tyson Chandler. Shane Battier anyone?
Ooooh. Ugh. Ouch.
I just remembered the Spurs owe Jefferson $30 million over the next three years. Yes, it hurts.
That leaves the front office four ways to upgrade the roll call. One is to do little and hope Tiago Splitter gets more consistent minutes and increases the frontline's bulk and profile. I'm a big Splitter suppoter and still believe he will become a big time blue-collar performer.
Another is to ask Duncan for another generous favor. The 35-year-old, future Hall of Famer's contract expires next summer. If he agreed to renegotiate a deal that would provide the Spurs additional salary cap breathing room while keeping him employed a few more seasons, Buford's free agency options would increase.
Understand these two things, though. Only a massive, ridiculous pay cut will afford San Antonio enough room to even think about an acquisition on Chandler's level. No one knows what the new salary cap will look like, but hoops aficionados should know by now that Holt wants it to look a lot different than the current one. League-wide spending will decrease, if his vision becomes reality, not vice versa.
Duncan has reworked his deal once. Is it reasonable to ask him to do it again? Why should he walk away from the highest annual salary of his career?
The third scenario seems most palatable to all sides (fans, execs, players and ownership): stay at 29 and hope to hit on another late-round gem.
Buford has produced Hill, Blair, James Anderson and Splitter in the previous four drafts, so it's not impossible to get better from a low draft position. History also says even the finest GMs cannot mine gold every time.
Mirotic needs a few years overseas to marinate. If he's still on the board, it would surprise me to see someone a few scouts think possesses All-Star potential drop to 30. The Spurs would prefer to find an athletic big to fill out the frontcourt rotation, but they can afford to select a project.
In the fourth, improbable operation, the Spurs would make a roster-changing transaction to move up a few spots or to the lottery. Given that the draft order starting with the third pick is murkier than ocean water after an oil spill, it seems doubtful San Antonio would execute such a trade without a target and the assurance it could land that player.