The Spurs have nabbed their first free agent signing with ex-Chicago Bulls guard Marco Belinelli as the two have agreed on a two year deal reportedly worth $6 million - possibly, a little lower. That’s a good deal for a proven player that fits the team as well as Belinelli does. We do not have the full details of the contract as he cannot officially sign until July 10th.
If Belinelli is expected to become the team’s Manu, even though Ginobili isn’t, at 35, exactly the best version of himself, Spurs fans will certainly be underwhelmed. Belinelli’s scoring off pick and rolls last season was just fine, but he is not the best finsher, and he lacks creativity as a playmaker. He is not as disruptive defensively as latter-career Manu is, and his rebounding is inferior as well. So he’s far from a complete player and nowhere near Manu’s level. [via Pounding The Rock]
With this signing, you can come to the assumption that Gary Neal’s stay with the Spurs is pretty much a done deal. There are reports that Neal likely will NOT return to the Spurs this season.
Our friends over at Pounding the Rock did a remarkable job of looking at and comparing both Marco and Neal.
Belinelli is a career 39% shooter from the arc and 80% from the line. While Gary Neal has better career percentages, last season saw a dip in his three point production. Playing for the Bulls, Belinelli shot 41.5% on spot up threes, 36% coming off screens (in just a few attempts) and 35.3% as the pick and roll ball handler, according to MySynergySports.com. Those numbers were all better than Gary Neal‘s last season, which means it’s possible to say the Spurs upgraded slightly in shooting. Even if Neal’s ability to hit off-the-dribble three pointers at a higher rate makes them comparable marksmen, Belinelli was a significantly better defender by the numbers, and he got to the rim more while having a comparable conversion rate. Not to mention he got to the line twice as often as Neal.
Losing Gary Neal at the point guard will not be that big of a deal for San Antonio. Belinelli’s potential to occasionally slide over to the three is significant. At 6-5, Belinelli is longer than Neal and he could be an option to guard back up small forwards when he shares the court with Ginobili.
Belinelli will get more looks inside of the Spurs system then he did in Chicago. Having Tony Parker and Tim Duncan being the two that teams will be concentrating on, things should open up more for the Italian Sharp Shooter. PTR also looks at his defensive style and how well he can adapt to the different defensive style of the Spurs after having the more mobile Bulls bigs to help him out last season will be what determines how valuable a contributor he can be.
Belinelli is younger than Neal, considerably longer, better defender, and a very comparable shooter to Neal. I, along with John Diaz, Senior Writer for Air Alamo, can’t be any happier with the snag of Marco Belinelli. As of right now, it is very hard to see Neal re-signing.