Prior to the start of free agency on June 30, a Project Spurs article was written looking at 13 teams who could possibly target San Antonio Spurs restricted free agent Jonathon Simmons. Now that six days have passed through free agency and the majority of the marquee free agents are off the board, let’s go back and look at which teams still have cap space that could make San Antonio hesitate to match an offer for Simmons, but also from a roster perspective, who would make sense for Simmons and the team.
First let’s go through a timeline of what’s been reported regarding Simmons.
Simmons was initially made a restricted free agent by the Spurs when they tendered him a $1.6 million qualifying offer. This means the Spurs can match any deal for Simmons up to $8.4 million in year one from another team, or $7.8 million if he takes the Spurs’ early qualifying offer in year one of a potential 3-4-year deal.
Prior to his release from ESPN, Marc Stein reported that the Spurs were preparing a $9 million annual 3-year deal for Simmons. As recently as Thursday, Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported that he’d heard the Spurs were looking to offer Simmons a 3-year deal for $30 million. Deveney wrote Simmons was looking for a deal higher than that like in the $40 million for 3 years range, which would pay him close to $13.3 million per year annually.
Through public reports, four teams aside from the Spurs have been linked to Simmons – the Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks. Because of their current financial situations, the Clippers, Kings and Wolves aren’t really threats to grab Simmons in free agency because San Antonio can match an offer they throw at him. The Knicks were a little different though because they were operating with open cap space. Prior to stunning NBA Twitter by offering restricted free agent Tim Hardaway Jr. a massive $71 million offer for four years, the Knicks had been the one team also who were considering giving Simmons a competitive offer that could make the Spurs hesitant to match.
Now though, it looks like the Atlanta Hawks won’t match the Knicks’ offer to Hardaway Jr., so that should eliminate the Knicks as a Simmons suitor.
Moving forward, let’s now look at some early cap estimates for teams that could still have over $10 million in cap space and the likelihood that they’d make Simmons an offer, where San Antonio might really have to think about matching.
Western Conference Teams: Mavericks, Lakers, Suns, Jazz
Dallas Mavericks: The Mavericks could open up close to $20.9 million in cap space and though they have 2 shooting guards and 3 small forwards on their roster at the moment, they could waive Finney-Smith and Brussino to make Simmons Harrison Barnes’ backup at the 3.
Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers could open $17.2 million in cap space and though they have 2 SGs and 3 SFs now, there were reports that they were willing to offer Dion Waiters $17 million for one season before he chose to stay in Miami. Might the Lakers offer Simmons a one-year deal to preserve cap space for next season? Or, will the Lakers look at the point guard market to get Lonzo Ball a mentor like Derrick Rose or Rajon Rondo, who have both been linked to Los Angeles.
Phoenix Suns: The Suns could open close to $20.0 million in cap space but they’re already stacked at the wing with 4 SGs and 4 SFs. They don’t look like an ideal destination for Simmons.
Utah Jazz: This is a very early cap estimate since Boston and Utah may still use the sign-and-trade route for Boston to open a max slot for Gordon Hayward. But, early on, it looks like the Jazz will have $14.0 million in cap space if they waive Boris Diaw and Raul Neto. Simmons could come off the bench to spell minutes for Rodney Hood so Joe Johnson can play more minutes at the 4 or lessen his minutes early in the season, but again, it’s still a very early look at the Jazz and they still have a young up and coming talent like Donovan Mitchell who will be seeking minutes at the wing.
Eastern Conference Teams: Hawks, Bulls, Pacers, Nets, Magic
Atlanta Hawks: If the Hawks don’t match Hardaway Jr’s offer sheet, Atlanta could have close to $20.2 million in cap space. They already have 4 SGs on their roster but they could make Simmons the starter at the 3 or Taurean Prince’s primary backup.
Chicago Bulls: The Bulls could have up to $17.4 million in cap space and though they have 4 SGs, Simmons could start at the 3 or be Paul Zipser’s backup.
Indiana Pacers: The Pacers could have close to $23.6 million in cap space with 3 SGs and 2 SFs on the roster. Simmons could backup either Victor Oladipo or Lance Stephenson, but Indiana also needs a backup point guard.
Brooklyn Nets: The Nets would only make this list if the Washington Wizards decide to match the qualifying offer the Nets made to Otto Porter Jr. With $32.2 million in cap space under this scenario, even though the Nets have 4 SGs and 2 SFs, Simmons could either start or come off the bench to provide wing depth at either position.
Orlando Magic: The Magic could have close to $14.5 million in cap space, even though they have 4 SGs and 1 SF. Simmons could start at the 3 or be a backup for Mario Hezonja.
For now, the Spurs will continue to wait as Simmons tests the restricted free agent market. If a team without cap space makes an offer to Simmons, there’s a very good chance San Antonio will match. However, if a team with cap space like some on this list offer Simmons a big deal north of $12 million annually, it’ll be interesting to see if San Antonio matches.