State of the Cap: San Antonio Spurs
2008/09 San Antonio Spurs Payroll: $59.3 million
2008/09 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $58 million
Roughly: $1.3 million over cap
Like Duncan, point guard Tony Parker has been an impressive model of consistency. For the past three seasons, Parker has stayed very close to his 18 point, 6 assist, and 52% shooting averages. His marriage to Eva Longoria certainly hasn't been a distraction according to those numbers. Parker is signed for the next three years at a total of $37.6 million, a modest sum compared to what he produces on the court. The scariest thing about him might be that he is only 26 years old. Parker is just entering his prime and will continue to be one of the quickest players in the league for years to come.
In his sixth NBA season, Manu Ginobili had his best year as a pro. He set career highs in points (19.5), rebounds (4.8), assists (4.5), and three point shooting (40.1%), all while playing a reserve role that won him the Sixth Man of the Year award. Ginobili is a great bargain at just $9.9 and $10.7 million the next two years. That might sound like a lot for a bench player, but we all know that Ginobili is one of the best guards in the game today and well worth the price San Antonio is paying.
Veteran forward Fabricio Oberto plays intelligent, efficient basketball and is the Spurs' second best front court player. The team managed to keep Oberto around for just $3.5 million a year the next two seasons. His 4.8 points and 5.2 rebounds may not sound like much, but if you factor in that he outplayed Kurt Thomas, a guy who made more than twice as much as Oberto, then you can see why he is such a great value.
I would normally talk about low value players here, but considering that no one is currently under contract for more than $4 million after Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, there really isn't much to gripe about. Matt Bonner is probably the biggest waste of space at roughly $3 million each of the next two years. For an outside shooting forward, Bonner sure doesn't make many of his outside shots. Since he doesn't bring anything else to the table, that money would be better spent on a role player that might actually contribute.
As long as Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili are around, the Spurs will always be in the thick of the hunt in the Western Conference playoffs. There is, however, a small concern heading into next season. While their top three players are great, the Spurs' success largely depends on the quality role players that surround them. Bruce Bowen is still a great defender and will only make $4 million a year, but he is very old and will have to be replaced soon. Brent Barry has gone to Houston. Michael Finley and Robert Horry are unsigned. San Antonio needs to reload their bench in order to keep up with the other power teams in the West.
Finley would be a good veteran to re-sign, but Horry was very ineffective last season and might not return. While Kurt Thomas has been resigned, the team definitely needs to add more depth to their front line. The back court should be okay, especially if they retain Finley. Roger Mason from the Wizards was signed to a cheap, two-year contract to help replace the three-point shooting of Barry. Ime Udoka really emerged as a viable option in place of Bowen at small forward. He is one of those players that never seems to make a mistake, a staple of the Spurs' bench over the years. I fully trust Greg Poppovich and the team's front office to find a way to fill their holes and put another championship contender on the floor. San Antonio has won every other title since 2002-03. Are you going to bet against them next season?
The Spurs have always done an excellent job drafting overseas talent and adding them to the team when they are ready. That being the case, what in the world were they thinking when they gave up Luis Scola to the Rockets for almost nothing? I've heard that they were worried about how he would share the post with Duncan and whether his game could be effective against NBA big men. As we've seen in Houston, the Spurs were very wrong. Since they rarely make such mistakes, I'm willing to give them a mulligan on this one.
Main State of the Cap Page
One thing that is a major difference from the last time the Spurs' big three won a championship is that Sam Presti is not in the front office. Presti, now the SeaOklahoma Son???? GM, was a major reason why the Spurs were so good at evaluating talent overseas. This 1st draft without ANY Presti influence showed that the Spurs wanted to stay within U.S. Borders and even take a chance with a player who has been a tweener his entire career (George Hill). Let's see how R.C. Buford and Rob Hennigan handle reloading this aging Spurs' supporting cast this offseason.
Alton D. Clark
George Hill is the next Nick Van Exel, George Hill is the next Nick Van Exel.....I keep telling myself this. AHH!!!!!!!! WHY DID THE HELL DID THEY DRAFT HIM? The Spurs had their pick of Donte Greene, a guy they desperately needed to infuse youth and athleticism into their front court, DeAndre Jordan, and Darrell Arthur. Yet they chose Hill! Come on! Jordan would have been tremendous alongside Tim Duncan, especially since Tiago Splitter is pretty much locked up in Europe for many years. Arthur would have even been a nice pick, adding athleticism and rebounding up front. If the Spurs weren't my favorite team, i'd be laughing at them non stop. However, as a Spurs fan, I can't do that.
Have you seen the guy play in the summerleague? He's terrible, I don't know who labeled him the next Dwight Howard. By the way he plays he looks more like the next Kwame Brown. The real reason the Spurs drafted Hill is because they still remember the series that Chris Paul had against them. Honestly it was that series that spelled their doom in the playoffs. By the time they met the Lakers they had no legs to stand on.