The Spurs are over the salary cap, over the luxury tax threshold, out of exceptions and have the maximum 15 players under contract. So are we done? Must we focus all our hopes and dreams on these 15 players, forsaking those acres of greener pasture which lie just beyond the fence? Not necessarily. In fact, RC recently hinted there may be more moves to come. I will first outline our current team salary situation and then offer up a few possibilities for further action. The following salary estimates are courtesy of ShamSports, press reports and my own fertile imagination:
Update: SpursTalk reports Gary Neal's salary at 510,000 and Matt Bonner at 3,050,000. This puts total salary at just over $70.8m. Cut one player and fall under the tax threshold? Not so fast. It seems free agents count a minimum of 854,389 (two year vet min) in luxury tax calculations. So the Spurs are about $300k over the luxury tax threshold even with a 14 man roster. Going over by 300k is really dumb, costing up to 4 million in cash, so I'm sure that's not the plan.
I simply guessed on Gary Neal's contract, if anyone has a shred of actual knowledge please do not hold back. My estimates for Bonner, Splitter and Anderson should be very close. I can play around with the numbers and change the total by a few hundred grand but I can't change the fact that the Spurs are luxury tax payers with this or any other likely roster. Note that the last four contracts in this list are unguaranteed, these players can be cut if someone better comes along.
Since we are way over the $58m cap we can only sign free agents via exceptions. I previously said we were out of exceptions, but that's not strictly correct. We still have:
MLE: 1.855m (updated to reflect a 510k Gary Neal salary)
Note we had 2.365m of MLE after signing Splitter but we used another
1m (SWAG) 510k on Neal. We also have early Bird rights for Roger Mason, Jr., which I will disregard, and Bird rights to quasi-retired players like Robert Horry. What can the Spurs do with all this? Not much. Impact players are rarely available for $1-2m in this league. Top contenders can sometimes attract ring-starved role players for minimum money, but the Spurs have slipped from that pedestal. Miami and LA are now seen as the quick tickets to championship glory.
There is a chance Shaq will lower his asking price, lower his playing time expectations, lower his body weight by 40 pounds and lower his opinion of his game enough to graciously accept a niche role with the Spurs for $2m/year. The only possible justification for such a complete personality reversal would be the chance to tie arch-enemy Kobe with 5 rings each. Feel free to hold your breath waiting for this to happen.
This leaves trades. There are 1,408,563,252 possible trades involving the Spurs, and this doesn't even count potential four-team deals. 43% of these possible trades have been discussed on PTR in the last six months alone (yes, I checked. Really). Social scientists have a term to describe such discussions: "colossal waste of time". Otis Thorpe of the Magic may call RC tomorrow and say "we really like Gortat as a young player but we feel McDyess's veteran savvy could put us over the top". There's also a chance I will be named as a last-minute replacement for LeChicken in next year's NBA slam dunk competition. In my mind we should spend as much time discussing the latter possibility as the former.
So where does this leave us? Pretty much back where we started. No cap space or useful exceptions. A 0.00% chance that any trade we discuss will actually happen. A full roster with no obvious holes and no obvious trade chips. A front office which does their homework, thinks long term and fanatically suppresses leaks. I can't tell you if they'll make another move as RC hinted, but I can tell you that if they do it will catch us all by surprise.