SAN ANTONIO – Let the summer games begin and we’re not talking about the Olympics!
The NBA rumor mill is starting to churn as we head toward the draft and free agency, and Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan is rumored to be in the mix. Welcome to this week’s KSAT.com Spurs newsletter.
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DeMar DeRozan to rival Lakers?
Let’s start with this summer’s biggest free agency question for the Spurs: What is going to happen with DeRozan? The Spurs can re-sign DeMar for a cool $150 million over four years, but a report this week indicated the LA Lakers are interested in trading for the four-time All-Star guard. At first glance, I’m thinking the Spurs hang up the phone immediately when the Lakers call, but i’ve softened my stance on this.
For one thing, if DeRozan wanted to go back home, I think the Spurs would accommodate him. This is nowhere near the Kawhi Leonard situation in 2018, when San Antonio reportedly refused to trade Leonard to the hated Lakers or anyone else in the West. DeRozan has been nothing but professional since he was traded from Toronto to San Antonio. The Spurs were never his preferred destination in all this, but he has never complained publicly about the situation, has acclimated himself to our community, and head coach Gregg Popovich has a history of helping his guys who have been loyal to the organization...even if it would be the rival Lakers. Ugh.
Next, what would the Spurs possibly get back in this potential deal? Since LA has no cap space to sign DeRozan to a contract he’s seeking, in the range of $28-$30 million-plus per year, this potential deal would have to be a sign-and-trade. The money would have to match, so the Spurs would reportedly get back forwards Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and this year’s Lakers first round draft pick in return. That’s not bad considering DeRozan can sign with another team with cap space, and the Spurs would get nothing in return.
Kuzma has been inconsistent, but shown flashes of being a good player. Since LeBron James arrived in LA, Kuzma has been mostly relegated to the third and sometimes fourth option on offense, and still provided a solid scoring output. He also has a team-friendly deal set to kick in this summer, $39 million over three years, and fits the Spurs current youth timeline. Harrell, on the other hand, seems like a potential trade option if he opts into his current deal. This would also give the Spurs two first-round picks, No. 12 and 22, in this year’s draft.
Again, this all hinges on what DeRozan wants to do. He could ultimately re-sign with San Antonio and get paid, but I can’t imagine he would not be interested in going back to Southern California to go compete for a title. The Spurs aren’t there at the moment. I think this would work for both sides.
John Collins latest
No matter what DeMar decides, the Spurs will still have some salary cap space to go after a big name free agent. Enter Atlanta’s John Collins. The Hawks 6-9 foot forward is coming off an impressive postseason run in the ATL and is expected to get something close to a max deal this summer. He’s averaged nearly 18 points and seven rebounds per game throughout his career and is about to turn 24 years old.
Collins is a restricted free agent, meaning the Hawks can match any offer made to him, but The Athletic reported this week that “there seems to be a level” where Hawks owner Antony Ressler is “comfortable matching and hesitancy if it goes above that threshold.” Ressler also said in the article he wants the deal to be “fair and smart for both of us.”
The article also notes that Collins will have no shortage of suitors and San Antonio “looks like it would be a perfect fit, and it could afford to make it extremely difficult for the Hawks to match a deal.” Miami and Dallas would also be in the mix, according to The Athletic. Free agency starts on Aug. 1. Saddle up for what should be a fun ride.
Spurs lose AT&T as arena naming sponsor
Well, this one came out of nowhere. Last Friday, Front Office Sports reported that AT&T would no longer be the naming-rights sponsor the Spurs county-owned arena after the current contract expires in the Fall of 2022. The company also sold its 7% minority interest in the team. According to FOS, AT&T said in a statement the “sale is a result of the ongoing strategic review of our balance sheet and assets to identify opportunities for monetization. We want to ensure that our assets support our overall strategy and areas of market focus.”
This is still a bit weird. AT&T’s deal with the Spurs was on the low end, around $2 million annually, when compared to other naming-rights deals. They also have been the naming-rights sponsor for nearly 20 years! The Spurs are now valued at $1.85 billion, so why now? My guess is the Spurs feel pretty good about getting more money out of a potential new naming-rights contract with another company. With the expansion of Valero and USAA across North America, they would be my odds-on favorite to be the new naming-rights sponsor and they still headquartered in San Antonio, whereas AT&T moved its headquarters to Dallas years ago. Of course, there is always the Michael Dell factor. Dell recently became a new Spurs minority owner, so his company could be in the mix as well. Either way, I think we hear of a new naming-rights deal sooner rather than later.
Patty Mills makes history
The “Bala” is back and already making history even before the start of this summer’s olympics. On Wednesday, the Australian Olympic Committee announced that Spurs guard Patty Mills would be the first Indigenous flagbearer in the county’s history during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Patty is playing with the Aussie basketball team, and a tremendous ambassador for the country and Indigenous people there. Patty is simply one of the GOATs (greatest of all-time) when it comes to representation for Indigenous cultures and using his platform to help communities in Australia and in San Antonio. Just retire this man’s jersey now!
The most interesting Spur in the world, or former Spurs player, is Manu Ginobili. What has Manu been up to? The old Spurs No. 20 is soaking up the California sun. Manu hit up Yosemite, the Pacific Coast Highway and Redwoods State Park this week, according to his Twitter account. Another fun Manu tidbit. It’s now been 22 years since the Spurs selected Ginobili with the second to last pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. Crazy. MANU. FOREVER.
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