Grading Each San Antonio Spurs' Free-Agency Transaction So Far

Jared Johnson@@jaredtjohnson21Featured ColumnistJuly 26, 2013

Grading Each San Antonio Spurs' Free-Agency Transaction So Far

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    Being 21 seconds away from winning in the NBA Finals in six games shouldn't be any cause for blowing up a team. 

    And the Spurs haven't overreacted, sticking to re-signings and small pickups so far. By doing this, the Spurs' front office has instilled confidence in Spurs fans by showing them that the team executives believe in the basic makeup of the team they fielded in 2013.

    Let's take a look at how each move, including the money and length involved in the contract, grades out. The moves will be graded on the traditional A to F scale. 

    Note: All stats are collected via Basketball Reference, unless otherwise indicated.

Signing Marco Belinelli

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    Former Chicago Bull Marco Belinelli and the Spurs reached an agreement on a two-year, approximately $6 million deal at the beginning of July, according to Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski.

    Now that the Spurs have cut their ties with Gary Neal, according to CBS Sports, Belinelli looks like the favorite to be Neal's replacement. 

    Like Neal, Belinelli can shoot the three (38.7 percent for his career), but doesn't create for others much. Belinelli is also not afraid to take the big shot, as you can see here and here

    Belinelli, however, is a more confident dribbler, and can bring the ball up better than Neal can. And although Belinelli is just one inch taller than Neal, he plays bigger and doesn't get picked on as much on defense. 

    $3 million is not a bad price to pay for a better version of Gary Neal, so this was a solid signing. 

    Grade: B

Re-Signing Manu Ginobili

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    Manu Ginobili will earn $14.5 million over the next two years with the Spurs, according to HoopsWorld. Ginobili, who turns 36 on July 28, will likely retire after the contract is up.

    After a very difficult finals series (though not quite as terrible as some make it out to be), Ginobili was certainly due for a pay cut. In 2012-13, he made over $14 million, according to Project Spurs.

    While Ginobili certainly was worth more than the veteran's minimum, the salary he got was a little too much. I have no problem with the length, as it coincides nicely with the end of Duncan's contract, but it seems like the Spurs could have given him around $4 or $5 million without being disrespectful to one of their greatest players in franchise history. 

    But the Spurs played it safe, which is fine. 

    If Ginobili can score 10 points off the bench with efficiency and be a bit more careful will with the ball (his 3.1 turnovers per game in the NBA Finals are not ideal) during the next two years, this deal will look a lot better.

    Grade: B-

Re-Signing Tiago Splitter

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    Win shares per 48 minutes is a basketball statistic invented by the guys at Basketball Reference, based off Bill James' win share statistic for basketball. It takes into account performance on both ends of the court, and involves a lot of complex mathematical calculations. If you are the type of person that gets into that sort of stuff, you can read here.

    In 2012-13, the usual suspects led the league in that statistic—you know, guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler, Tony Parker, James Harden, Marc Gasol and Tiago Splitter. 

    Wait, what? Tiago Splitter? 

    Yes, Tiago Splitter finished No. 8 in the NBA in win shares per 48 minutes last year, a testament to his advanced play on both ends of the court. 

    Splitter was extremely efficient on the offensive end (56 percent from the field, 73 percent from the line), and made huge improvements on his defense, joining with Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard to form arguably the best defensive frontcourt in the NBA. 

    Unfortunately, the Finals presented a unique challenge for Splitter. The Miami Heat played small ball, which rendered Splitter's post defense useless and kept him on the bench for long periods of time. He was unable to find a groove and couldn't contribute much. Then, the Spurs went and re-signed him to a four-year, $36 million contract, according to Spotrac, which upset some Spurs fans. 

    Call me crazy, but I think it's a great deal to sign a big man highly skilled on both ends of the court to a $9 million contract.

    The only reason this move isn't a straight-up "A" is because of Splitter's lack of versatility. With Tim Duncan still on the team, Splitter will rarely see the floor in small-ball situations because of his inability to shoot outside and guard quicker forwards. 

    Grade: A-

Signing Jeff Pendergraph

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    Jeff Pendergraph didn't do too much for the Indiana Pacers last season. He averaged just 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game in just 10 minutes of action. 

    However, I suspect that Pendergraph will improve his efficiency for the Spurs this year, even if his minutes stay low, as their offense has more organization to it. With a myriad of screens, the Spurs almost always get someone open for a good shot. 

    In 2013-14, that shot could occasionally be a Jeff Pendergraph mid-range jump shot. 

    Pendergraph shot a very respectable 44.1 percent on mid-range jumpers last year, according to Vorped. I expect that to improve as Pendergraph gets used to the Spurs' systematic offense. His rebounding will also a welcome sight off the bench, compared to light rebounders like Boris Diaw and Matt Bonner. 

    This is a nice move, even though it might not be a huge difference-maker. 

    Grade: B+

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