With the upcoming NBA draft getting closer, the San Antonio Spurs are currently in the process of working out potential draftees. As for their some of the Spurs’ select players from last season who might become free agents this summer, the news has been relatively quiet.
There were two different sources of information that were published at a prior date that did provide hints as to what the free agent market value could be for Patty Mills this summer and how Pau Gasol hinted he’ll likely exercise his player option for the 2018 season with the Spurs.
Free Agent Market Value for Mills
Per an article published by FoxSports.com/au, with whom the author spoke with several NBA executives off the record, the market value for Mills this summer could be anywhere from $12-18 million. However, with context, it must be noted that this article was published on April 25, 2017. At that date, the Spurs were still in the opening round of their six-game series with the Memphis Grizzlies. So, it’s unknown if Mills’ market has either increased or decreased based off his series against the Houston Rockets in the second round (12.2 PPG), or his series against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals (7.8 PPG).
Since the Spurs have Mills’ Bird Rights, they can exceed the cap to re-sign him for any amount if they keep his $6.8 million cap hold on their books. However, there are various factors in play regarding how much the Spurs are willing to offer Mills this summer. First, San Antonio has been mindful of their cap space forward next summer. With Tony Parker coming off their salary in the summer of 2018, the Spurs could have close to $37.0 million in cap space with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge still on their roster. $37 million would be an amount to offer a max free agent in the summer of 2018. Having Mills on the books at $12-18 million brings that cap space down and the Spurs’ ability to bring in instant additional help on the free agent market next summer. The Spurs would also be keeping an eye on their cap situation for the summer of 2019, when Leonard’ super max would kick in, if the team extended him next summer.
The second reason the Spurs might have a limit as to how much they’ll re-sign Mills is because of the current rumor they’re involved in regarding Chris Paul. Considering the Spurs are already over the cap at the current moment and they’d need to shed salary to open cap space to sign Paul, Mills’ cap hold would have to be renounced, which would mean him returning to San Antonio would essentially be over.
Gasol Likely to Exercise Player Option
Pau Gasol has a player option deadline approaching on June 29. If Gasol exercises that option, he’d receive $16.1 million next season to stay in San Antonio. Gasol originally told the San Antonio Express News back in January that he’d most likely exercise that player option, and on May 22 (H/T Hoops Rumors), the day the Spurs were swept by the Warriors, Gasol told Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report the following:
“I look forward to continuing to grow” in the Spurs’ system.
That is a strong hint that Gasol plans to exercise his player option at age 36. If Gasol declined his player option, the Spurs could have up to $17 million in cap space while keeping the cap holds of Mills and Jonathon Simmons on the books. If Gasol exercises that player option, like he’s inferenced twice now, the Spurs would have just over $824K in that scenario.