State of the Cap: San Antonio Spurs
By Josh Redetzke
2007/08 San Antonio Spurs Payroll: $60.9 million
2007/08 Estimated NBA Salary Cap: $55 million
Roughly: $5.9 million over cap
The Good: The Spurs are in the Finals yet again thanks to their talented core of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. You’d better get used to it since that group is locked up for at least three more seasons.
Tim Duncan is one of the highest paid players in the league, getting $19, $20.5, and $22 million over that span. The future Hall of Famer earns every penny. After dipping last season, Duncan is back to scoring 20 points a game to go with his 10.6 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. To top it off, he shot 54.6% from the field, his best since his rookie year. The most efficient player in the league still has a lot of game left in him.
Duncan’s backcourt teammates also kept their play at a high level. Tony Parker maintained last year’s stellar numbers and vastly improved his three-point shooting to nearly 40%, although he hardly shoots them anymore. His preference is to get to the rim and finish, which he excels at. Despite not starting, Manu Ginobili still managed to play the same amount of minutes and improve his numbers. His 16.5 points per game and 39.6% three-point shooting were both career highs. Manu always saves his best for the playoffs and he is a big reason the Spurs are where they are right now. Each player will be paid between $9 and $12 million a year the next three seasons and together with Duncan, they are almost unstoppable.
Bruce Bowen is considered by some to be the best defender in basketball and San Antonio gets to keep him one more year for a measly $4 million. Bowen’s offensive game is limited to corner threes, but he knows what he does well and sticks to it, allowing the stars to do their thing without getting in their way. Bowen should get a nice pay raise next summer as other teams with be foaming at the mouth for a chance to take away one of the Spurs’ best role players.
The Bad: The days of Big Shot Rob are pretty much over. He’ll still make the occasional big play when it counts, but why does he even show up for the regular season? Horry sleepwalked his way to 3.9 points in 16 minutes a game. At least he is only due $3.6 million next year.
The Future: Simply put, the San Antonio Spurs are the flagship franchise in the National Basketball Association. They represent what every other team in the league should be trying to achieve. They win, they play smart, team oriented basketball, they are well-coached, and their salary cap is fiscally sound. Sure, they were lucky to land Tim Duncan in the draft lottery, but they made their own luck by drafting Parker and Ginobili and by making intelligent front office moves like acquiring Bruce Bowen and Michael Finley. Even after all their success, the Spurs will still be title contenders in the foreseeable future. That’s a major credit to their management.
The only concern I see is the depth of their frontline. Fabricio Oberto, their best big sub, could become a free agent this summer. The smart, efficient Oberto has a chance to produce better numbers with a larger role on another team and he’s likely to receive some offers. If Oberto leaves and Robert Horry retires, the only frontcourt players left are Francisco Elson and Jackie Butler. The Spurs will need to give Duncan a little more help down low. Of course, when you are the Spurs, filling a need seems to be an easy task.
Free Throw: After watching the Spurs dismantle Cleveland in game one of the NBA Finals, I started to wonder. How many championships will they win by the time Duncan calls it a career? Sure, the West is tough and they’ll have to fight through Phoenix and Dallas the next couple of years, but they’ve proven they can beat both of those teams. They are on their way to their fourth championship in the Duncan era and I wouldn’t be surprised if they won two more by the time he is through. Matching the great Michael Jordan for championships would be incredible and it appears to be within reach.
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