Boban Marjanovic entertained fans of the San Antonio Spurs with his gigantic stature and fantastic skills scoring, rebounding, and even passing.
Marjanovic is a restricted free agent this offseason. A team can sign him to an offer sheet, and the Spurs would have the final say in whether to match the offer and retain him.
It’s essentially a way for a player to gauge his value on the free market without having the freedom to take any deal offered to him.
The Spurs were surely impressed with Marjanovic’s play in limited minutes last season, but how much money would they be willing to commit to bringing him back?
With Tim Duncan’s possible retirement, center is a big hole the Spurs will likely have to address with roster transactions. While outside reinforcements are available for the Spurs to bring in, it will be interesting to what extent they view Marjanovic as a key piece for the future of their team.
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Any significant money spent to retain Marjanovic could impede their ability to sign a marquee free agent. Is keeping Marjanovic worth possibly losing out on a guy like Kevin Durant, Mike Conley, or Al Horford?
At this stage of his career, Marjanovic would be cashing in on potential he has flashed. With the salary cap increasing by so much, players are expected to be commanding more money than past precedent has dictated for other players of their status.
The average salary in the NBA last season was just over $4 million. The median salary was just under $2 million.
Marjanovic made $1.2 million last season, and ranked as the 362nd highest paid player in the NBA. Only Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant had a higher Player Efficiency Rating than him. It was quite a bargain for San Antonio.
A conservative estimate is that Boban gets offered somewhere around $5 million per season by another team. If the Spurs were to match that, it essentially removes them from any sweepstakes involving a player like Durant, Conley, Horford, or Hassan Whiteside.
The Spurs will have to contemplate what they envision Marjanovic becoming. Invest relatively low on his potential, and if he can impact a game over 30 minutes the way he did over 10 minutes this past season, then he’s a star player they’re getting at a huge discount.
Retaining Marjanovic makes a big free agent acquisition less likely, though, so it’s a big gamble to make.
Basically, can Marjanovic eventually deliver the same value as a guy like Horford or Whiteside? That’s what the Spurs have to decide, and it can have major negative repercussions down the road if they guess wrong.