Spurs: Ranking the 3 best contracts for 2017-18 season
By Rob Wolkenbrod
Which San Antonio Spurs players are on the best contracts for the 2017-18 NBA season?
As of Oct. 5, the San Antonio Spurs have more than a full roster. They are above the 15 players they can keep for the 2017-18 season, along with the two-way players. All of them are on contracts, whether they are expensive deals or for the veteran’s minimum.
Players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Danny Green are owed significant sums for the upcoming season. Despite their role on the team, it doesn’t mean they have worthy contracts or ones that just meet their talent level. Some players are not as talented (or are) than these players, but are on more team-friendly deals that go below their respective skills.
With that in mind, let’s look at the three-best contracts on the Spurs roster for the 2017-18 season.
3. Davis Bertans – $1.3 million
Davis Bertans is still on the minimum-salary contract he received in the 2016 offseason. It only plays him just over $1 million — $1.3 million, to be exact — for the 2017-18 season. However, it’s somewhat of a bargain, especially with the direction the NBA has taken.
Bertans stands tall at 6-foot-10, but isn’t a prototypical power forward or center. His best use is to stretch the floor and find open shots, whether it’s from the 3-point or mid-range. Given how most of the Latvian forward’s shot attempts were from behind the arc, it’s the former.
Given Bertans’ age (24) and the potential he to score as a stretch four, it makes his $1.3 million contract look somewhat minuscule. That’s along with the rising salaries for almost every NBA player. So, for now, the Spurs have a bargain.
This is the final year of his deal, however, before hitting restricted free agency in July 2018. He’ll only be 25 and with two years of experience, so NBA teams could see upside in signing him to a larger contract, similar to what Jonathon Simmons received from the Orlando Magic. The Spurs could have cap space to match a somewhat sizable offer in the offseason. If not, this will be Bertans’ last season in San Antonio.
Next: Rudy Gay
2. Rudy Gay – $8.4 million
Before Rudy Gay signed with the San Antonio Spurs, he somewhat surprised everyone with a contract decision. He opted out of the $14 million the Sacramento Kings were set to owe him for the 2017-18 season and tried the open market. The Spurs paid him a fraction of this, with $17.2 million over two seasons; there’s a player option for the second season.
The surprise of this was due to the ruptured Achilles, Gay suffered in January. It meant there was a risk in him hitting free agency, but he tried his hand, anyway, and went to a contender.
For the 2017-18 season, the Spurs will pay Gay $8.4 million. It has the potential to be a bargain, if he returns to form from the previous 11 years. That may mean he tries free agency, again, and seeks more money. If not, the organization might be on the hook for an extra year of a declining player. So, this acquisition will either be a boom or bust.
Gay’s situation will be a season-long story to watch. There’s a chance he becomes the team’s sixth man and raises his value as a top bench player, or he’ll be just another bench scorer for the rest of his career.
Next: Kawhi Leonard
1. Kawhi Leonard – $18.9 million
The Spurs might be paying Kawhi Leonard nearly $20 million, but it looks like a bargain. That’s due to the mega extensions players like Stephen Curry, James Harden, John Wall and Russell Westbrook received.
Only two seasons remain before the Spurs have to open the checkbook for Leonard, who could command a $30 million salary, if he doesn’t give an organization discount. He’s considered one of the best players in the NBA and will be due a substantial raise.
Leonard’s 2018-19 contract is worth $20 million, which can come in handy for potential salary cap space. That’s if LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay, Danny Green and Joffrey Lauvergne all opt out of their contracts. If the Claw was owed $30 on a fresh extension, obviously, it would take up space and limit contracts that can be handed out in July.
At 25.5 points per game, a perennial MVP candidate and at just age 26, Leonard is in for a rich future. He’ll get a $200 million deal if he seeks the full max extension, placing himself with the previously mentioned superstars. It will be expensive, but with the team’s future in doubt after next season, they might need to lock in their star soon.
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