The San Antonio Spurs lost someone irreplaceable on Tuesday, as Patty Mills agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with the Brooklyn Nets. A member of the Silver and Black since 2011, Mills was the last man standing from the 2014 NBA Champion roster that broke up the Miami Heat superteam.
Mills has unquestionably been the spirit of the Spurs for the last few years, frequently being in the spotlight for his community efforts and beaming personality. Not to mention, he can shoot the hell out of the ball.
Spurs fans everywhere will take the loss of Patty hard, and they have every reason to do so. While he's not a franchise guy on the court, he's a one-of-a-kind human being off it. This one will sting for a while, and then again when Patty makes his first appearance in a Brooklyn uniform. But in the end, this move is best for both sides.
Earlier this year, Air Alamo writer Cal Durrett made the case for letting all of the main free agents walk this summer. I agreed with this sentiment, mostly because I was in the camp that believed it's time to give the young guys some real burn.
As of Tuesday, Rudy Gay has left for Utah, Patty Mills is headed to Brooklyn, and DeMar DeRozan is scheduled to meet with the LA Clippers. While that's a monumental blow to the Spurs' offense, it was time for major changes.
The Spurs' selection of 18-year-old Joshua Primo and departure with its older vets finally signal what fans have been wanting for the last few years: direction. Although it will involve growing pains, the Spurs are now fully headed toward a rebuild instead of a semi-retool.
On the court, Patty's intensity and sharpshooting will certainly be missed, but his overall ineffectiveness on defense was sorely hurting the Spurs. It was never for lack of effort, but Patty's size was being taken advantage of all too often. Tre Jones getting a bigger role next season should help with defense at that position.
While Patty always gave it his all, the Spurs would suffer when he went cold from the field, which happened frequently during last season's ultra-condensed schedule.
In leaving, Mills opens the door for Jones to move up in the rotation while also allowing more point guard minutes to some of the other ball-handlers on the team. Joshua Primo should also eventually be competing for those minutes.
Patty will now be joining a title favorite, teaming up with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. He'll have all the wide-open threes he can shoot with that roster. At age 33, Patty now has an opportunity to take home a couple more Larry O'Brien trophies before calling it a career.
As much as it hurts now, Patty's departure will only help both parties, and he'll always have a special place in the heart of the Alamo City.