You know what deal Western Conference executives have been raving about this week in Vegas?
Tiago Splitter to the Spurs. A deal that became official now and at an incredible price of three years for $11 million. Splitter clearly wants to be here as a he took a paycut to leave Saski Baskonia, the team he just led to the Spanish League title.
Splitter is the best center in Europe right now (or was, technically). He is 6’11”, skilled but physical as well. The 25-year-old Brazilian is the entire package. Look for Antonio McDyess to remain the starter at first, but Splitter may push him out of that role later in the season, once he learns the system.
His game may look familiar to Spurs fans — he says he has been watching and trying to copy Tim Duncan for many years. If there is one thing Splitter can do, it’s help Gregg Popovich keep Duncan’s minutes down through the course of the regular season. Keeping him fresh for when it matters, and a fresh and healthy Spurs team in the playoffs could be dangerous.
Splitter was drafted in 2007, but was pretty ticked when he was drafted, he admitted to the San Antonio Express News. Not because the Spurs drafted him, but because he had been led to believe by his advisors that he would go in the top 10, not drop all the way down to the Spurs closer to the end of the first round.
So he stayed in Europe for three more years, meaning the time of what would have been his first rookie deal ran out and the Spurs were allowed to pay him more.
“I realize where you have the opportunity to be — on a team that is international and a team that won titles with such good players, Manu (Ginobili) and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker,” Splitter said. “Then I realized that I’m in good hands, and the team who had my rights was great for me.”
Do not sleep on San Antonio next season.
Gordon Hayward dunks on Giannis Antetokounmpo, Thon Maker (videos)
The Lakers took on the salary of Jose Calderon this year so they could get a couple second-round picks from the Bulls (Chicago got him from New York in the Derrick Rose trade), but even with the previous regime in Los Angeles the aging point guard was never part of the future.
Sources told ESPN that it’s not yet a certainty Calderon will secure his release from the Lakers in the coming days, but the sides are indeed discussing the options as Wednesday’s playoff eligibility deadline nears….
Sources say that Calderon, if he winds up hitting the open market, would instantly become a target for both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets.
Cleveland may also have interest if their plan to land Deron Williams when he is bought out by Dallas goes awry.
Calderon, 35, was not part of the Lakers’ regular rotation, playing in just 24 games. He can still knock down a shot if he has space and can set his feet, and he still has a high hoops IQ and can see the floor, but his athleticism has faded, and that can leave him exposed. Particularly on defense.
Players are being waived now so they clear in time for teams to sign them by March 1, after that said players are not eligible for playoff rosters.
There are better players to hit the waiver wire in the coming days — D-Will, Andrew Bogut, Matt Barnes — but Calderon is going to land somewhere. He’d be a solid third point guard and veteran presence for a playoff run.
Marquese Chriss blocks Bobby Portis, who gets testy (video)
The time off during the All-Star break did Dwyane Wade some good.
The Bulls guard turned back the clock on Friday night, leading the Bulls with 23 points and topping it off with this dunk that proved to be the dagger, sealing a Chicago win. The Suns were convinced Wade was going to run the shot clock way down before making his move and they lollygagged into position — so he just blew past everyone for the poster slam.