With most of the attention on Manu Ginobili's impending free agency, another player who will be a free agent at the end of the season is Matt Bonner. He may not be a star like Ginobili, but he is an important cog for the Spurs machine and fully understands his role.
Bonner's ability to knock down shots and space the floor for the Spurs is a huge part of the team's offensive schemes. He is a good three-point shooter, and this season he added a drive and jump hook to his arsenal. He also occasionally drives down the lane for the most awesome dunks in NBA history. Ask the Toronto Raptors.
In short, he has been a reliable role player for the Spurs especially on the offensive side of the floor. Case in point, in their latest victory over the Orlando Magic, Bonner's shooting touch was key for the Spurs.
However, he remains a defensive liability. He's too slow to be an effective defender in the paint. Also, his lack of quick lateral movement is of concern when opposing athletic big men play the Spurs. See Lamar Odom, Amar'e Stoudamire, or Pau Gasol.
Also, Bonner's numbers are down from last year. In 59 games this season, he is averaging 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds on 45.7% shooting from the field and 39.6% from the 3-point line compared to 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds on 49.6% field goal shooting and 44% from the 3-point area in 81 games last season. This decrease in stats could be partly because of an early season hand injury.
But his play has picked up lately, in the past four games, Bonner has averaged 9.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.8 assist per game.
Nonetheless, we should be reminded he has yet to prove he can play as good or as consistent during the post season. His performance in this year's playoffs could be an important factor for the Spurs to decide whether to resign him or not. In last season's playoffs he was a non-factor against the Dallas Mavericks despite his good regular season performance.
Overall, Bonner is a great complimentary player despite his shortcomings on defense. Which leaves the question -- is Bonner the type of player the Spurs can feel comfortable going deeper into the luxury tax by re-signing?
With the Spurs are already in luxury tax territory at $79,158, 564 and next year they are at $54,135,160 in guaranteed contracts. Currently, Bonner is making $3,240,380 in his final contract year with the Spurs.
The front office will make re-signing Manu Ginobili their number one priority. If they do re-sign Ginobili, he will certainly receive a handsome contract. This will push the franchise deeper into the luxury tax which is speculated to drop between 50.4 to 53.6 million for the 2010-2011 NBA season.
Why not address the glaring need for a legit big man and target Miami Heat free agent Udonis Haslem or Portland Trailblazer free agent Marcus Camby if the Spurs are going to spend money and go further into the luxury tax? If you feel the loss of Bonner's three-point shooting is too much to lose, there is Indiana Pacer's free agent Luther Head.
What are your thoughts? Should the Spurs re-sign Bonner or should they use some of their money on younger talents to provide more youth and athleticism on their roster or spend it on a legit big man? Send us your opinions and comments on this matter.