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NBA free agency 2015: Marco Belinelli could get too expensive for the Spurs to keep

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Marco Belinelli has provided good value for his contract but what happens if he wants a raise?

Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Erler and Jesus Gomez will be discussing the status of the Spurs' upcoming free agents. Today, Marco Belinelli. Enjoy!

Jesus Gomez
So now that we've moved on from minimum contract guys things get tricky.

Marco Belinelli was awesome his first year, not great his second. Which version do you think the Spurs would get in Year 3 if he's brought back?

Michael Erler
If you look at his year-by-year numbers, I think the answer is fairly obvious. One of these things is not like the others.

His first season with the Spurs caught us all a bit by surprise because not only were his numbers far better than his career norms, but almost everyone struggles with the Spurs at first. But if you scrutinize it a bit further, it wasn't even a full season as much as a red hot first three months. Belinelli took advantage of the injuries to Leonard, Green and Ginobili and saved the Spurs for a couple of months there, along with Duncan, Mills and Diaw.

Injuries no doubt contributed to his struggles last year, but I have a hard time being optimistic about his chances for a big spike in 2016, with the Spurs or elsewhere. He'll be another year older, another year slower, and he'll be more expensive, whether he re-signs with San Antonio or moves on.

Jesus Gomez
That's my fear as well, that we've seen the best version of Marco. On the other hand, he can shoot, is a willing passer and as far as gunners go, he has a conscience. That's valuable.

Ideally every player on the roster would be solid on the two ends while shooting over 40 percent on threes. That's hard to find, especially for cheap.

Michael Erler
You mentioned his passing in passing (aren't I clever?) and that's part of my skepticism with him. He was way more one-dimensional last season. The assists-per-36 minutes dropped from 3.6 to 2.4, and when you combine that with him being the second-worst defender on the team, it makes little sense to bring him back for double the money or close to it.

He's gonna get like four million from somebody, right?

Jesus Gomez
That's the thing, though: Which playoff team is going to throw the full mid-level exception at Marco? The taxpayers mid-level exception? Maybe. I think some struggling team might go full Orlando Magic and throw a Ben Gordon-like two-year, $9 million contract his way. If that happens, bye Marco.

I wouldn't blame him for taking the money. But he won't have a lot of successful teams thinking he's the last piece of the puzzle because of the weaknesses you mentioned.

Michael Erler
I wouldn't be too bummed if he was brought back for similar money, because he is a useful player. Like you mentioned, there are only so many two-way guys out there. But my feeling is he wants to move on and expects to.

Jesus Gomez
I get the same feeling and while I think he does have value, I think if Manu returns the Spurs need a better defender next to him off the bench. Someone who can take tough assignments so that Manu doesn't have to. Marco is not that guy.

Michael Erler
Pop made a concerted effort to split those two up down the stretch. Like, Marco played some with the starters instead of Green or Leonard and one of the starting wings would play with the reserves. According to NBAWowy, only 587 of Marco's 1,503 minutes were with Manu.

Jesus Gomez
Yes, he realized having the two together out there wasn't working. Adding a third solid defender would be ideal. If Ginobili returns, you have to make life for him as easy as possible. Having three other wings who are able to cover tough assignments so he doesn't have to is a must, so he can save his energy.

If Manu doesn't return, I'd be for keeping Belinelli, even for a slight raise. Again, decent bench guy who can go crazy and win you a game. If Manu is back, I'm not sure about the fit but I'd take him for cheap.

Michael Erler
So we agree then.

Jesus Gomez
Yes, we agree. We would like Marco back for the right price, but are not sure if the Spurs can get him for that.

Again, this is not a free agent signing speculation conversation but I have to ask: if he goes, who replaces him? Who can be signed for the around $3 million we both seem to think Belinelli is worth that can be as good as he is?

Michael Erler
First name that immediately pops up is Mike Dunleavy. Made only $3 mil last year, probably not gonna get much of a bump at his age. Casspi isn't a shooter, but he's an intriguing guy. If Delfino was ever healthy, he'd probably be someone the Spurs would be curious about.

Jesus Gomez
I'd take a Corey Brewer or Alonzo Gee type, who can defend.

Michael Erler
I know you're high on Alan Anderson.

Jesus Gomez
Good corner shooter, good defender. What's not to like?

Michael Erler
Anderson is 33. I'm just concerned why he hasn't put it together already.

Jesus Gomez
With his talent level, becoming a rotation player IS putting it together. And Duncan is 39. We are not building for the future here, unless that's what you think the Spurs should do. If that's what you think they should do then, Will Barton, come on down!

Michael Erler
I was just thinking of Barton actually. But Dunleavy and Casspi would be guys on my radar.

Jesus Gomez
So I'm a "No" on bringing Marco back if Manu returns unless he's cheap. You'd bring him back if he doesn't get a big raise or you'd sign a similar shooter.

MichaelErler
I just realized something. The backup small forward is probably just going to be Kyle Anderson.

Jesus Gomez
And you are aware that Pop is just going to bring Gary Neal back, right?

Michael Erler
Nooooooooooooooo.