The Spurs have officially announced what seemed like a given after the report from a couple of days ago: Aron Baynes is back. Per the official press release:
September 26, 2014
The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they have re-signed Aron Baynes. Per club policy, terms of the contract were not announced.
Baynes, who originally joined the Spurs as a free agent on Jan. 23, 2013, appeared in 53 games during the 2013-14 season, averaging 3.0 points and 2.7 rebounds in 9.3 minutes. During the 2014 playoffs, the former Washington State Cougar saw action in 14 games, averaging 2.3 points and 2.2 rebounds in 7.2 minutes.
A member of the Australian National Team, Baynes recently competed in the 2014 FIBA World Cup where he helped lead the Boomers to the elimination round, averaging 16.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in 27.0 minutes.
For his career, Baynes has appeared in 69 NBA games, averaging 3.0 points and 2.6 rebounds in 18.4 minutes.
By bringing back Bangers, the Spurs will have the exact same roster they had in the playoffs last season, with Kyle Anderson nominally replacing Damion James, who wasn't even with the team in the post-season.
According to reports, Baynes will get a contract worth $2.1 million fully guaranteed, which is significantly higher than his qualifying offer of roughly $1.1 million. Speculation up until this point was that the Spurs had drawn a line in the sand at the QO but it seems they were simply letting Baynes find his worth in the open market. Gustavo Ayon, who was rumored to be in the running to replace the Aussie if an agreement couldn't be reached, got a $2 million a year offer from Real Madrid.
The signing barely makes a dent in the Spurs current cap situation, as they are significantly under the tax line. And because the deal is for only one year, the future cap situation is not affected. But since it's only a one-year deal, Baynes has trade veto power and the Spurs won't have full Bird rights to him after next season. That means including his salary in potential trade packages could be problematic but more importantly, that the Spurs won't be able to go over the cap next off-season for more than the mid-level exception to re-sign him if he lives up to the promise he has flashed on occasion.
In all likelihood, it was contract length that was holding the whole thing off. Baynes probably likes some security or at least the potential for future security. By signing a one-year deal, that's made extremely unlikely, at least in San Antonio. Still, from the Spurs' side, it makes complete sense to be cautious considering Baynes has been a decidedly below average player in general. Only in a few instances has he truly showed he could be a viable rotation player. Committing long term would have been reckless.
The Spurs have 15 players under guaranteed contracts at the moment, the maximum allowed during the season. That pretty much ensures the players on the pre-season roster (Josh Davis, JaMychal Green, Bryce Cotton, John Holland) will be released before the season. The three last cuts will be allocated the Toros but the Spurs won't retain their exclusive rights.
Overall, this seems to be a good thing. If Baynes makes good on the potential he showed over the season and in the World Cup, he could claim a regular spot. If he doesn't, he will remain a cheap specialist to deploy against the bigger centers of the league. Since we don't know how things will turn out, for now, let's say a team that relies heavily on continuity brought back everyone from their recent championship season. That doesn't guarantee the same results but it can't hurt.