Rumblings already exist that the San Antonio Spurs could be in the market for a significant splash in 2017 NBA free agency and, on Tuesday, things reportedly became easier for Gregg Popovich, R.C. Buford and company if they want to make that happen. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports that Pau Gasol, who had a player option for more than $16 million for the 2017-2018 season, will instead look to sign a long-term deal with the Spurs.
Later, Wojnarowski added that Gasol’s move will produce a smaller annual salary and, in turn, give San Antonio more flexibility to pursue other ways to improve the roster.
The notion that the Spurs could pursue free agent point guard Chris Paul has been prevalent since the season ended and this move would undoubtedly ease the burden of clearing the requisite cap space for such a move. With that said, the Gasol reshuffling does not quite provide San Antonio with maximum cap room on its own, although more moves could be made. Paul, who is the head of the NBPA, likely would not accept a significant discount and San Antonio could also pursue other top-tier free agents with their newfound flexibility.
From Gasol’s standpoint, it might be in his best interest to accept less money in 2017-2018 for the benefit of a long-term deal. The former All-Star will turn 37 in July and, while he remains an effective player in certain roles, locking up guaranteed salary in the future makes a great deal of sense for Gasol.
The Spurs were already a team to keep a close eye on as July 1 approaches and this does nothing but add fuel to that preexisting fire.