Are Bruce Brown's two-way abilities worth his rumored price for the Spurs?

Bruce Brown
Bruce Brown / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

The San Antonio Spurs will have plenty of money to spend this offseason, and there will be plenty of talents around the league to consider.

While I've previously assessed the top free agents available this summer, it's time to start looking at some more realistic candidates: role players. That term certainly applies to Bruce Brown of the Brooklyn Nets, who's coming off one of the better seasons of his four-year career.

Brown shot an impressive 40.4% from beyond the arc this season -- albeit on a low volume of 1.3 attempts per game (38-of-94). Through 72 games, he averaged 9.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.1 assists in 24.6 minutes per contest. He also tallied season-highs in steals (77) and blocks (52) -- both totals of which would have him ranked 2nd on the Spurs in the 2021-22 season.

Where Brown really shines is in his versatility. As someone who can do a bit of everything on both ends and defend multiple positions, he's the kind of glue guy that can go a long way as a utility tool. The Spurs saw that firsthand last season when he lit them up for 23 points, three boards, and three steals on 10-of-13 shooting from the field in a Nets win in San Antonio.

The Nets may not be able to afford Brown this summer

SI's Brett Siegel examined what Brown's pending unrestricted free agency may look like last month, assessing how much he could command this offseason. He's coming off a one-year qualifying offer of $4.7 million, and Siegel believes he's likely to see a substantial raise from that figure.

"The max Bruce Brown can make this offseason is $176.9 million over the course of five years," says Siegel, "but it is unlikely that any team, including the Nets, is going to want to make him a max contract player."

That's obviously true, as Brown is nowhere near a $35 million per season player. Still, Brooklyn has the best shot at retaining him since they can exceed the cap to offer him something he's happy with.

"A three-to-four year deal worth around $14 million to $18 million per year is definitely in play this offseason for Brown, especially when you compare his numbers and value to other players around the league in this annual average value bracket," says Siegel.

San Antonio Spurs
Bruce Brown / Elsa/GettyImages

Is Bruce Brown worth that amount for the Spurs?

There's an easy way to assess this since the Spurs recently offered a contract to Derrick White similar to Brown's rumored next one. He signed a four-year, $70 million deal in 2020, averaging out to $17.5 million a season. It's safe to say White has been a decently more productive player over his career than Brown so far, but he was actually averaging similar numbers to Bruce when he got that extension.

But the White argument also tells me it wouldn't really make much sense for San Antonio to dish that amount of money for Brown. After all, the Spurs just moved on from Derrick, another 6-4 two-way talent, to develop their young core. Why would they go back and sign a similar player for nearly the same amount?

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If, for whatever reason, Bruce wanted to head to San Antonio on a cheaper contract than he's expected to get, there's no reason the Spurs should refuse weighing that as an option. Since he's just going to be 26 next season, though, I can't really see that happening.