So, tonight after our Summer League victory pushed us to 3-0, I got to thinking. It's been awhile, so the thinking didn't come natural. Here's my question at the root of my thinking. How valuable is Curtis Jerrells to the Spurs organization?
I'm starting to think the answer is: Quite.
A Different Drummer
The opinions of CJ's play varies from PtR member to PtR member. He doesn't have a chance to make the team. He's very solid. He over dribbles. Blah, blah, blah. I like him for the most part. I don't know if the Spurs will keep him on the roster or not. I think he's very borderline. But, whether he makes the team or not, and whether they pay him an NBA contract or not, has nothing to do with how valuable he is. Here's where I'm coming from.
Knowing The System
Curtis, and Squeaky also, knows the Spurs system pretty well. He's played in it for a year. And he's the point guard. This means that he knows where the players should be. He can tell them where to be. Both on the offensive end and the defensive end. I think this knowledge of the system provides a HUGE monetary value to the Spurs.
It's Summer League
Most teams practice for summer league for about 1 week. Last year, when I interviewed Jonas Jerebko, he said that it was pretty difficult to play in summer league because you don't know the other players. You've practiced for maybe a week and you are thrown out on the floor. It's very difficult to create any kind of system or cohesion for a team to play in such a short time.
It's About Evaluation
Summer League is really about evaluation. Teams and scouts show up to evaluate players. They attempt, in the span of 4-5 games, to assess how good a player is. This is difficult at best. It is damn near impossible when you have a team that can't even get the ball up court -- like the Hawks in our second game. How is a team supposed to evaluate the abilities of a post player if the point guard can't get the ball up court, much less if he can't get the team into its offensive set, and the ball to the post player? It can't. Do you think the Hawks have any idea, based off of Wednesday's game, if Randolph Morris has any post moves? No, they don't. Jeff Teague couldn't get the ball to him.
Just to set a baseline, let's talk about how much it costs the Spurs to attend Summer League. They have 12 players (or more) on the roster. They have 4-5 coaches. They have a couple trainers. All these guys had to be flown out to Las Vegas and they had to be put up in a hotel for 10 days. They also have some do-nothing lie abouts like PR people and probably somebody to sell tickets or something. Let's say that makes 25 people. All getting paid. They also have scouts and front office people. An in-game shot of Popovich showed a lot of brass in the stands. Pop, RC, Dennis Lindsay, Dell Demps, and Chad Forcier were all people I saw right away. I'd bet there were a couple more present. Anybody want to guess what a week of all their time is worth?
I think you could easily get to $250K -- and $500K might not be out of the range -- as a cost of fielding, scouting, and evaluating a Summer League team. And that is just the cost to be there. It doesn't even begin to address the value of the decisions that they make while they are there.
Having a point guard who knows your system, who can get the team into their sets, and can get the players the ball is a tremendous value. We as fans have been able to get a good idea of how good Alonzo Gee is. Of how good Gary Neal is. Of how good James Gist is. We were able to see all these guys in situations similar to those they would get in a Spurs game because our point guards are competent. Gary Neal has been able to launch spot up jumpers because we can run plays that involve kick outs. Alonzo Gee has been able to iso him man on the wing because we have a point guard that can get him the ball on the move.
If the Spurs are able to kick Curtis Jerrells $50K/year on top of his D-League salary just to run the Spurs' Summer League team, it will be worth it. Whether he is able to land a roster spot or not, CJ is a very valuable asset for the franchise.