It’s amazing how quickly circumstances can change during the NBA offseason. The San Antonio Spurs are suddenly looking less flexible in the free agent market.
With the news of Manu Ginobili’s likely return next season and Tim Duncan’s opting in to his player option for 2016-2017, the Spurs are going to have less cap space than previously believed.
Ginobili has a player option for about $2.9 million for next season. Duncan has a player option for $5.5 next season. Those two combined represent about $8.4 million towards the Spurs’ payroll.
The estimated cap is $94 million for next season. LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard, Tony Parker, Danny Green, Boris Diaw, Patty Mills, and Kyle Anderson are all under contract for next season. Their combined salaries equate to about $73.7 million.
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Adding Duncan and Ginobili’s salaries to that makes it about $82.1 million that the Spurs are committed to for next season.
Jonathon Simmons has a team option for about $875,000. Assuming that the Spurs pick it up for that cheap of a cost, that raises their salary commitment to about $83 million.
That leaves them $11 million in likely cap space. Boban Marjanovic is a restricted free agent, and if they decide to match any offer sheet another team signs him to, conservative estimates are such that their cap space would likely be cut in half from that previous $11 million.
The Duncan and Ginobili news drastically alters what the Spurs can do in free agency. Even if they let all of their non-committed players walk (Bonner, West, Marjanovic, Simmons, Miller, and Martin) they have approximately $12 million in cap space.
That’s not going to enough to lure a marquee free agent unless the player agrees to take a massive discount to play for an incredible organization like the Spurs.
The Spurs are apparently still meeting with Kevin Durant on Saturday, but these new developments hinder the amount of money they can offer him. They were always relying on him to take a discount; now that discount has turned into an even more massive reduction.
In what was once looking like a hopeful endeavor to land a guy like Durant, Mike Conley, or Al Horford, the Spurs are now faced with the limited reality of their splurging capabilities.
Marjanovic is the last huge domino to fall for them. How they prioritize his retention further impacts the direction they take this offseason.
What seems more clear at this point is that the Spurs’ roster is less likely to undergo the drastic change that seemed probable just a few days ago.
The majority of the 67 win lineup will be back in San Antonio next season. The Spurs were already an elite team in the NBA.
Although they’ll be another year older, there’s no reason to assume that they won’t be able to compete for a championship with a core group just one year removed from San Antonio’s best season in franchise history.
The major takeaway is that the dreams of a shiny new acquisition no longer seem as plausible for the Spurs.
Most franchises in the league would be thrilled at returning a roster that won 67 games last season, though.
Whether that same group of players can improve on last season as a team remains to be seen, but San Antonio should rest assured that they still have a lineup that can compete in the tough Western Conference.