The Spurs have already had a franchise-altering offseason, but with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming into effect, plenty of cap space to spare, and not many roster spots available, the Spurs have some important decisions to make before the start of the regular season. With free agency beginning in just under 48 hours, this article will focus on the financial side of the Spurs’ offseason and how the new CBA may impact some of the decisions that face the Spurs’ front office.
Spurs active roster
While technically Victor Wembanyama is not yet a member of the active roster, his cap hold is identical to his projected salary, so he is included in this table since it’s a foregone conclusion he will eventually end up on the roster over the next couple of weeks. The date for the Spurs to waive Zach Collins has also passed, so his salary for next season is now fully guaranteed (no surprise there). This leaves the Spurs with an active roster of 11 players for a total of just under $92 million in guaranteed salary.
Spurs dead cap
Unfortunately, Josh Primo will still be on the books for next season with a cap hit of $4,341,600 because his third-year team option was picked up before he was waived. Adding his cap hit to the guaranteed salary increases the Spurs’ total salary to $96,316,739.
Minimum salary floor and the new CBA
The minimum salary floor that teams must reach in the new CBA is the same as the previous CBA, which is 90 percent of the team salary cap. The difference is that in the previous CBA, teams were not required to reach that mark until the end of the regular season. If they didn’t reach the minimum salary floor by the time the season ended, the only penalty was that the team was required to make up the shortfall by paying the difference to the players on the roster. This allowed teams to stay far under the salary floor during the regular season for maximum flexibility (e.g., taking on bad contracts for assets).
This strategy will now face far stingier restrictions and penalties. For one, teams must reach the minimum salary floor by the start of the regular season instead of the end. Secondly, teams that do not reach the minimum salary floor by the start of the regular season will have to write a check to the NBA instead of the players. Finally, teams under the minimum salary floor by the start of the regular season will only receive half of their portion of the end-of-season tax distribution from the league’s taxpaying teams. Starting in the 2024-25 season, these teams will not receive any of the end-of-season tax distribution from the taxpaying teams. This is likely a non-starter for most teams, especially small market teams like the Spurs.
The minimum salary floor for next season will be $122.4 million. With the Spurs at roughly $96.3 million in guaranteed salary and 11 players on the active roster, the Spurs will need to spend at least $26.1 million when filling out the rest of their roster.
Relevant Cap Holds
|TOTAL CAP HOLDS||$12,811,411.00|
Romeo Langford has a cap hold of nearly $17 million. Since he won’t command nearly that much in the open market, nor do I see him in the Spurs’ future plans, I have removed him from the list. I also left out Gorgui Dieng, as there simply aren’t enough roster spots available to make a reunion likely.
Re-signing Tre Jones is likely a top priority for the Spurs this offseason. Teams with enough cap space to make Jones an offer above the non-taxpayer MLE include the Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, and Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets just drafted Amen Thompson and seem to be dead set on using their cap space to sign big-named free agents. The rest of these teams are already set at the point guard position and won’t likely be looking to spend big at that position. That means the non-taxpayer MLE of $12.4 million is likely a good indicator of Jones’ salary ceiling for next season. With the Spurs having plenty of cap space this summer and wanting to have as much financial flexibility as possible moving forward, signing Jones to a contract that decreases in salary over time seems like the way to go, similar to what they did with Keldon Johnson. While a contract of 4 years/$50 million may be a bit high for his market, a decreasing salary starting around $14 million next season and ending around $11 million would still be a great move for the Spurs long-term. The salary cap is going to continue to increase, so Jones would only be making 6-7 percent of the overall salary cap towards the end of his contract.
As far as the others are concerned, if had to make a prediction today, it would be as follows:
- The Spurs let Keita Bates-Diop walk (sadly). He was a great glue guy for the Spurs last season but he may be the casualty of a roster crunch.
- Sir’ Jabari Rice, Dominick Barlow, and Sidy Cissoko sign two-way contracts.
- Julian Champagnie and Sandro Mamukelashvili sign regular contracts. This would put the Spurs at 14 players on the active roster, including Tre Jones.
Even after signing Jones to a front-loaded contract and signing Champagnie and Mamukelashvili to regular contracts, the Spurs would be well below the minimum salary floor with only one roster spot available. I think Khem Birch will be waived at some point, opening up another roster spot. I also expect the Spurs to sign a free agent center. Rumors came out that the Spurs were interested in Naz Reid before he re-signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves. A trade for Jones Valanciunas seems possible, as does a reunion with Jakob Poeltl. It’ll be interesting to see how the Spurs fill out the rest of their roster after winning the Wemby sweepstakes. I hope they live up to their word and don’t overspend on long-term contracts that may inhibit them down the road when the team is truly ready to make a playoff push.