Given the landscape of NBA contracts, the San Antonio Spurs being able to keep Dewayne Dedmon seems unlikely.
When Dewayne Dedmon joined the San Antonio Spurs in 2016, he only looked like depth for one of the best teams in the NBA. They gave Dedmon a one-year deal for $2.8 million, with a player option for the 2017-18 season, which would have paid him $3 million. It was coming off a year where he made 20 starts for the Orlando Magic, putting up just 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
However, the numbers lied beyond the Per Game averages and could be focused in on the Per 36 statistics; Dedmon put up 13 points, 11.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in the latter in 2015-16, making him a bit of a sneaky get for the Spurs. Those numbers were slightly brought to life with the Spurs, which was due to them giving Dedmon more time on the court and 17 more starts.
So after just one season in San Antonio, Dedmon is opting out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent. It’s a remarkable turnaround for someone who stood on the fringe of an NBA roster, and is now seeing if he can cash-in on the rocket, known as the always-increasing salary cap.
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For the 2017-18 season, the salary cap is expected to be $101 million, according to USA Today. With Dedmon gone, that leaves them with about $19 million of cap remaining. Simply put, that doesn’t seem like enough to keep the USC alumnus around.
The underlying stats are what will get Dedmon paid, and not just his Per 36 numbers. The Ringer did a deeper dive into his 2016-17 production and explained why it will lead to someone paying him in free agency:
Dedmon averaged only 17.5 minutes a game with the Spurs, but ended with three playoff starts. San Antonio — which led the NBA in regular-season defense — had its second-best defensive rating with Dedmon (and his rim protection) on the floor, allowing just 97.5 points per 100 possessions. He ended with career highs in points, rebounds, steals, assists, and field goal accuracy.
To cap it off, there are the Per 100 possessions numbers, which are eye-popping. They look like those of a top-10 center:
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His restricted minutes made for a small sample size, but Dedmon is making a good bet that someone will chase him in free agency. Per 100 possessions, the big man’s averages are more eye-catching: a team-high 19 boards, 14.8 points, and 2.3 blocks.
Beyond that, there’s the contract comparisons, which can go back to the last offseason and had Timofey Mozgov greatly benefit from the rising cap. After averaging just 6.3 points and 4.4 rebounds (in only 17 minutes per game) for the 2015-16 season, the Los Angeles Lakers gave him a whopping $64 million over four years.
Like Dedmon, Mozgov had gaudy Per 100 possession averages: 18.4 points, 13.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. If that means a team is going to give the 27-year-old a similar contract, then it would leave the Spurs with barely any breathing room to fill their roster. If anything, with the rising cap figure and Mozgov’s struggles in Los Angeles, might that give him more money?
That leads to potential replacements for Dedmon, something the Spurs can go to the NBA Draft for. Big men like Ivan Rabb, Ike Anigbogu or Justin Patton could all be available at the 29th overall pick and step into a depth role for next year. They’re cheap options, especially with the limited cap room the organization may have, that won’t open up until the 2018 offseason.
Barring something unforeseen, expect Dedmon to don another uniform for next fall. Someone will take a chance on him with a starting role and hand him a pretty-looking paycheck for the next few years, while the Spurs will recover with a big body to fill in. If not, and they choose to pay him, then the payroll may look much different.