After winning the 2014 NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs will look to retain Boris Diaw and Patty Mills, both of whom are free agents. Both players were vital to the Spurs’ title run this past season, performing at a high level in the biggest moments of the NBA Finals. Certainly the Spurs organization has been grounded in unselfishness and displays an unparalleled culture of winning. These two qualities may play out in the contract negotiations for both potential departures. If previous contract negotiations are any indication, Diaw and Mills will leave money on the table to come back and attempt to repeat in 2015.
The Spurs’ franchise centerpiece Tim Duncan is the key example of San Antonio players who are willing to sacrifice in hopes of a better chance at winning. In 2012, after averaging 15.4 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, Duncan took a massive salary pay cut. After making over $21 million in 2012, Duncan accepted a salary of less than half that for the following season.
Looking at the Spurs’ “Big Three” of Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Duncan, these players made roughly $30 million for the 2014 NBA Champions. To compare that number to others in the league, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson made nearly $40 million this past year while only securing the Eastern Conference’s sixth seed.
Both Mills and Diaw have greatly benefited from the Spurs’ system, and playing with other teams would most likely limit their success. Playing under Gregg Popovich has facilitated each of their respective development, which culminated in their breakouts this past postseason. Returning to this system is clearly their best option if they want to perform at a high level and also have the possibility to win another NBA championship.
It should not come as a surprise if Diaw and Mills continue this trend previously observed in this Spurs organization. By taking less than market value, Mills and Diaw would once again demonstrate that winning is more important than anything else in San Antonio.