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The Spurs opt for continuity by bringing Tre Jones back

The Spurs’ first move of the offseason was locking down their most important free agent, which shows that they are committed to being patient with their current group.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

In the early hours of free agency, the Spurs did what was expected and retained Tre Jones. The young point guard will be back in San Antonio on a two-year, $20 million contract.

It’s not a surprise that Jones is staying with the team that drafted him. After a slow first year in which he didn’t get much run, he became a key member of the rotation as a sophomore before taking over the starting point guard spot in his third year. The former second-rounder did well under less-than-ideal circumstances as the Spurs pivoted to a rebuild and completely changed their offense as the veteran scorers left. Had he entered unrestricted free agency he could have been a flight risk, but since San Antonio extended a qualifying offer to him, giving them the ability to match any salary, it was all but a given that he was going to return. Now he’ll get the opportunity to potentially hold on to his starting spot and help guide Victor Wembanyama in his rookie year, which were surely big selling points. It was all a matter of ironing out the details.

The contract is reasonable for both parties, so there’s not much to complain about. The Spurs get a mature, steady point guard who fits their timeline back on a short deal that should allow them to gauge how he fits with the core pieces of the roster and how Blake Wesley progresses as a potential replacement. The money is more than fair for a starter but is also completely reasonable for a quality backup, so it should be easy to move Jones if they decide to go in a different direction. For Jones, he’s getting less money than he would have if he had been offered the full mid-level exception, but not by much. There might not have been any suitors willing to pay him that anyway and even if there were, they couldn’t possibly guarantee him the type of role he’s expected to have in San Antonio, which could allow him to cash in once he enters unrestricted free agency in two years.

As the initial signing of a team that went into the offseason with plenty of cap space and a need for talent, the move might seem underwhelming but it signals that the comments General Manager Brian Wright made about wanting to see how all the current pieces fit was actually truthful. It seems that instead of pursuing big names that simply wouldn’t provide long-term answers, the Spurs are opting for continuity after some rocky seasons with plenty of personnel turnover. Losing Keita-Bates Diop might hurt in that area, but not as much as letting Jones walk would have. After the trades that sent out Derrick White and Dejounte Murray it will be a good thing for San Antonio to have the same ball handler from one year to the next, and while Jones is not as talented as his two predecessors, he doesn’t need to be now that Devin Vassell has made a leap and the team has Wembanyama around.

Now, it’s still possible the Spurs will bring in another point guard to the fold before next season. They still have plenty of cap space to make a big signing and should be able to retain Julian Champagnie and Dominick Barlow, the two other free agents that they decided to make restricted, while still having money to spare. Securing Jones this early, however, simply makes it not necessary to go for a big name who can handle the role of facilitator. Instead, the Spurs could focus on younger, more specialized options like Ayo Dosunmu for defense or Seth Curry for shooting while simply trusting Jones to keep the offense running. It’s not as glamorous an option as going after former All-Stars like Fred VanVleet and Russell Westbrook or past high picks like D’Angelo Russell, but it makes sense for a team that is still in the early stages of its rebuild despite nabbing one of the best prospects in league history.

Jones and the Spurs signed a deal that seems beneficial for both parties, as San Antonio gets the opportunity to see if the young point guard can still develop for a reasonable price while Jones gets his first big payday while retaining the possibility to go for a second one sooner rather than later.

Beyond the contract minutia, the partnership simply makes sense. Continuity at this stage is the best for both the Spurs and Jones, as they each try to figure out how good they can be in the league before making any drastic decisions or big changes.