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NBA free agency 2015: It's time for the Spurs to move on from Bonner and Ayres

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Michael Erler and Jesus Gomez discuss the Spurs' two deep bench big men and why it's time to move on from them.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Erler and Jesus Gomez will be discussing the status of the Spurs' upcoming free agents. First off, Jeff Ayres and Matt Bonner. Enjoy!

Jesus Gomez
Were you on the "trade Ayres" camp before this past season or did you, like me, want to see if he could improve a bit and crack the rotation?

Michael Erler
I don't think I had either position, but it's not like I thought he had much upside. I just figured he was a happy enough 14th man, which he is.

I mean, as a trade asset he can't have less NBA value. What do you get for him, a 2nd round pick in 2059?

Jesus Gomez
Yeah, it was more about having an open roster spot for the people who wanted him out.

The crazy thing is at one point in his first year with the Spurs, he was ahead of Baynes in the rotation.

Michael Erler
Those people (which include several of my colleagues on the beat who make a lot of money) were correct.

The key numbers with Ayres are these: 952 and 383. Guess what those are.

Jesus Gomez
Who do you take me for, sir? I have his stats on another tab. Minutes played.

Michael Erler
Exactly. Pop figured out he's not any good and didn't use him at all this season. But he remained because Tim likes him and Ayres is the rare NBA scrub who practices hard and doesn't complain about not playing.

The ironic thing is, in a smaller sample his peripheral stats did improve a bit. Better PER, better WS/48, better rebound percentage, fewer turnovers... but for the life of me I don't understand why they didn't dump him for JaMychal Green after camp.

Pop and his "We're bringing the band back together after a championship" fetish. It's like he just wants to take zero chances with new personalities upsetting the stew.

Jesus Gomez
That's the main reason, I think. But maybe it was because he's bigger. He can play center.

Michael Erler
He can't play dead, Jesus. Much less, center.

Jesus Gomez
I feel so bad about Ayres, man. Because he seems like a genuinely good dude who tried hard. But yeah, it will be hard for him to get another guaranteed NBA contract.

Michael Erler
He is a good dude. But he should be overseas.

Jesus Gomez
To think I was excited about his mid-range jumper when he was signed. We were so young an innocent.

Michael Erler
I think DeAndre Jordan can make unguarded jumpers in the practice gym.
There are stories out there of Shaq nailing half of his threes in warmups
It's a different deal when the blood is pumping.

Jesus Gomez
He used to shoot them in Indiana! I saw him do it! He was used like David West. Then he joined the Spurs and Pop ruined his career by not letting him take them anymore.
(Just kidding, of course. Or am I...?)

Michael Erler
Being too coachable is not a great recipe for success with the Spurs. It's why Cory Joseph is too limited. Because he doesn't trust himself enough to break outside of the box. Like The Big Three talked about on Champions Revealed, Pop forces you to have to break through his perceived limitations. You really have to have that, "Eff you old man, watch this" attitude.

We're seeing flashes of it with Baynes.

Jesus Gomez
Nando had that. He's in Russia now.

Michael Erler
Well you actually have to do good stuff when you're disobeying. It doesn't work when you rebel and then suck.

Jesus Gomez
I would slap you for talking about Nando like that but we are thousands of miles away.

Yes, I have weird emotional connections to Nando, Ayres and ...gulp... Richard Jefferson. But that's a subject for another day.

Michael Erler
If you like RJ we can't be friends. That's rule number two for PtR.

Rule number one is Manu, of course.

Jesus Gomez
I don't like him but I have empathy for him. Anyway, we should move on from this or we'll be here for hours.

Michael Erler
Okay, so we agree, no more Jeff Ayres.

Jesus Gomez
Yes. We both agree that Ayres should not be re-signed, not even for the minimum.

Michael Erler
Next on "great guys who gotta go.." Matt Bonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnner

Jesus Gomez
Man, this series is really going to test out friendship. How can you want the Spurs to dump Matt Bonner?! Is it a "Pop will be too tempted to use him" situation?

Michael Erler
Well for starters, when he catches the ball to set up for a shot on a Tuesday in Toronto, by the time he releases it it's a Thursday in Milwaukee.

Jesus Gomez
Counterpoint: Spuran Spuran

Michael Erler
Bonner is a great dude. He even got Kawhi to put on a Rush shirt. He's awesome in every way off the floor. He doesn't complain about his role. I just don't think he's an asset anymore.

Like, I know you expect me to bring up the rebounding, but I'm gonna surprise you: the Spurs actually had a better eFG and a better Offensive Rating with Bonner on the bench than on the floor. That's literally the whole reason he has a job, and he failed at that last year.

Jesus Gomez
Yes, but we can agree that some of the lineups he played with were weird and the starters struggled on offense in general.

I do believe he's not the offensive weapon he once was and since you didn't talk about his rebounding, I will. He had a lower defensive rebound percentage than Marco Belinelli. That's unacceptable.

I also think that if he's cool with being the 13th man, why not give him another minimum contract? The Spurs won't be lacking in roster spots this year.

Michael Erler
Mainly because I think they need to get younger and more athletic across the board. People can and do get hurt, and if injuries happen I'd like the people who step in for them to be able to grab the occasional rebound.

Jesus Gomez
You miss JaMychal Green, don't you?

Michael Erler
I do.

Keeping Ayres and Daye over him ... not PATFO's best moment.

Jesus Gomez
But if the Spurs get Duncan, Splitter, Diaw and Baynes back, we are talking about the fifth big. You don't like Bonner even in that role?

Michael Erler
And your aforementioned crew is: 39-year-old, second-fattest guy in the NBA, Mr. Chronic Calf Problem and the dude who was obliterated by Blake Griffin. It's not like the four guys in front of him are rock solid bets to perform for 82 games plus the playoffs. Boris doesn't even wake up from hibernating until February.

Jesus Gomez
But those Coach B videos. Being friends with Win Butler and listening to The War On Drugs. The Sandwich Hunter. I guess what I'm asking is, can we keep him as a pet?

Michael Erler
Sign LMA and then I'm open to keeping Bonner around for yuks.

It's not like I'll stop showing up to the games in protest if they bring back Bonner, but I just think he's done and you don't want to be the guy who's a team mascot.

Jesus Gomez
I just checked his three-point shooting percentage. Yeesh. I want my designated shooter to sink more than 36 percent of his outside shots.

This is not necessarily the point of these posts but it's appropriate here. Who do you think would be an upgrade for the minimum? I'm not sure there are many guys who fit the bill.

Michael Erler
Oh I have no idea. Haven't thought about it. You're better at knowing the random guys around the league than I am. Could be D-league guys for all I know. But you're not going to find too many pros who are 6-10 who can't grab more than 4.4 rebounds per 36 minutes.

As intelligent a fellow as Bonner is off the floor, he's never struck me as someone who has a high basketball I.Q., even for all his years in the system. Whenever he's on the floor people have to scream at him to tell him what to do, whom to guard, where to be. I don't think from a floor sense standpoint, it'll be too much of a downgrade with a new guy.

Jesus Gomez
Hmm. I came into this discussion with my mind made up. I wanted Bonner back for sure. I'm having second thoughts now.

Michael Erler
The power of Stampler!
I just think he's done as a useful player and nobody who wants to ostensibly win a title and already has a bunch of old guys with minutes limitations should have roster spots open for sentimentality.

Sentimentality gets you killed in that business.

Jesus Gomez
Easy there, Gordon Gekko. But yeah, you are probably right.
So you are a hard "No" on bringing him back.

Michael Erler
It's a minimum salary so I'm not putting my foot down and making demands or anything, but my preference would be "No." I suppose if he was a jerk, it'd be a hard "No."

Jesus Gomez
I kind of disagree with your assessment of his IQ but I think if the Spurs can get say Kyle O'Quinn or Darrell Arthur and they need that roster spot, then they should cut ties with Bonner.

I can't believe I just said that. I feel dirty now.

Alright, so you are a "No" for Bonner and I'm a soft "No."

Just promise me you'll slip one of the Spurs' player a The Hold Steady CD if Bonner leaves. I need someone on that team that listens to dorky music if he's gone.