Dollars for Diaw: A Spurs’ equation

Column by Buck Harvey

Before the series with the Thunder, here is what one Spurs’ staffer thought was the best way to keep Boris Diaw:


Give Diaw both a ring and a sentimental reason to want to return.

After the series with the Thunder, here’s what another in the organization wonders:

Will anyone else want to commit big dollars to a guy who went scoreless in Game 6?

It’s the power of the last impression, and all of this will figure into the Spurs’ summer. While they know they will eventually reach agreements with Tim Duncan and Danny Green, Diaw is something else entirely.

Exactly how much is he worth on the open market?

These are the questions of every summer, since the art of basketball management is financially based. DeJuan Blair is an example.

The Spurs have been disappointed with him at times. He got emotional this season when he was demoted, and he gained some weight. As the Spurs like to say about players who aren’t in tune with their way of doing things, he wasn’t pulling the rope.

Blair seemed to recover late in the season, and staff found him working out at surprising hours in the practice facility. But the bottom-line incentive to bring him back is the salary cap’s bottom line. Blair is ?under contract for a little more than $1 million next?? season, and that’s the kind of value that eases other concerns.

What’s tougher to determine is how much to pay someone such as the veteran European player, Erazem Lorbek. Obtained in the Kawhi Leonard trade, Lorbek shoots nearly as well as Matt Bonner and does most other things better.

They like him. At 28, Lorbek is at an age where he should come to the NBA if he is ever going to. But money will determine what happens this summer, and, again, once they establish Duncan’s salary, this begins with Diaw.

From the day he arrived after a buy-out in Charlotte, Diaw was priceless. Diaw knows the game, and he’s clever enough to pass and big enough to defend the post.

He had a 12-rebound game against the Clippers, as well as a 16-point one. He banged with Blake Griffin while also becoming a snug fit between Duncan and Leonard.

Had the Spurs advanced to the Finals, then maybe another team would have wanted to steal a healthy 30-year-old with his kind of versatility. Anything beyond the mid-level exception will be out of reach of the Spurs, and, besides, a ring and sentiment only go so far in this business.

At his age, Diaw is facing what is likely his last chance to cash in.

But then came the Thunder series. As adaptable as Diaw is, he struggled to stay on the floor when Oklahoma City went small. He was hesitant to take the 3-point shot the Thunder were giving him, and when Diaw opted to drive instead, he was ineffective with either the shot or the pass.

He ended with five turnovers in the final two games — when he had only three in a stretch of seven consecutive games in the postseason.

Were other teams still thinking he was worth, say, a $35 million deal? What happened in Charlotte will leave doubt, too. And even those impressed with his stint with the Spurs might wonder if he was happier in San Antonio than he would be elsewhere.

There’s only one city where he can live with Tony Parker, after all.

The Spurs hope all of this is part of the equation. They thought Diaw was remarkable, especially since the stretch-four position is new to him. Diaw was 9 of 18 from behind the 3-point line this postseason, for example; in his previous 39 playoff games with other teams, he was only 4 of 29.

So how much better would Diaw be if Gregg Popovich gets him in November instead of March?

The Spurs hope they will be able to pay to see that.
Twitter: @Buck_SA

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