Interpreting R.C. Buford’s Rookie Signings
By John Vasington
Recently, the Spurs have signed three rookies to contracts. Now that summer league has come to a close, I wanted to take the time to reflect on the deals each prospect signed.
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Dejounte Murray, the Spurs’ only 2016 NBA Draft selection, was picked in the first round. That meant he had to sign a deal using the NBA’s rookie scale that was established under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Rookies have the ability to sign between 80 and 120 percent of their base salary, and for the 29th pick the first year base salary is 983,400 dollars.
The Spurs ultimately gave Murray the maximum 120 percent that he could receive, which is understandable. For a player many thought would be selected much earlier in the draft, it was natural for him to want to receive the largest amount he could for where he was selected.
Murray also has Rich Paul as his agent. He was the only Paul client in the 2016 NBA draft not named Ben Simmons, which is impressive and demonstrates Paul’s commitment to him. It was practically a given that Paul would make sure the Spurs gave him the most money they possibly could. Paying Murray 120 percent of the rookie scale of a 29th pick is just a drop in the bucket in the modern NBA with the cap increase and huge contracts that were given out this summer.
R.C. Buford was also able to sign both Bryn Forbes and Ryan Arcidiacono to two-year minimum contracts. This was a brilliant move because Buford was able to acquire to players who specialize in something that could add value to the Spurs. Forbes is a talented shooter and Arcidiacono has above-average court awareness for rookies, and Buford got them each at bargain-bin prices.
Forbes’ contract involves a partial guarantee of 125 thousand dollars while Arcidiacono’s contract includes 75 thousand dollars guaranteed. The cap hit to the Spurs is only $543,471 in 2016-17 for each player because the amount of money offered as a guaranty does not count toward a team’s salary cap.
Jul 9, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Antonio Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (5) shoots the ball as Golden State Warriors forward Darion Atkins (50) defends during an NBA Summer League game at Thomas & Mack Center. San Antonio won 63-61. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Other rookies who signed similar contracts with comparable guarantees include Okaro White, James Webb III, Matt Costello, Shawn Long and Stefan Jankovic. None of these players are nearly the type of immediate-impact players that Forbes and Arcidiacono have the potential of being. Kyle Collinsworth and Jarrod Uthoff are around the same caliber of players as the Spurs’ new backcourt duo, and although they have also signed the same minimum deals with their respective teams, the guarantees in their contracts and specific terms have not yet been disclosed.
The contracts San Antonio arranged with the two un-drafted rookies provide multiple benefits to the Spurs. In addition to the smallest possible cap hit, the Spurs have the luxury of choosing to renounce the rights to either player if they are not pleased with progress or cannot lose the cap space for 2017-2018. However, if either player is a success, they can keep them under contract for a second season.
They will also have both players as restricted free agents after the second season expires. This means that in the event Forbes or Arcidiacono have a phenomenal impact and become proven assets other NBA teams will want to bid on, the Spurs will have the right of first refusal.
My assumption is that both players were so willing to sign these team-friendly deals because of their appreciation for the Spurs organization and what they feel the team can accomplish in the near future on the floor.
For a team that was facing as many cap constraints as the Spurs were this offseason, R.C. Buford basically did the work of a magician to get the sheets to balance. He was able to obtain three valuable assets while doing everything in his power to minimize any negative impact the signings could have on the Spurs cap.
There is a reason Buford won Executive of the Year this season, and these new deals prove he clearly has the respect of agents and draft prospects alike.