When Eric Bledsoe re-signed with the Suns, Aron Baynes became the last free agent with an outstanding qualifying offer.
The Spurs waited as Baynes explored overseas options. They considered signing Gustavo Ayon as a replacement. They discussed a sign-and-trade.
And finally, they got a deal done.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
Shams Charania of RealGM:
Baynes gives the Spurs 14 of 15 players back from last year’s championship team, the only difference being rookie Kyle Anderson replacing Damion James, who signed with the Wizards.
At one point, I thought there was a chance the Spurs would waive Baynes if he accepted the qualifying offer in order to keep one of those three. But considering they offered him more than his qualifying offer ($1,115,243), there are strong indications they want to keep him.
The Spurs even exceeded the max they could pay Baynes through early bird rights ($1,380,526), meaning they dipped into the mid-level or bi-annual exception. The bi-annual exception is worth $2,077,000, so – if Stein is rounding – it’s possible Baynes took that. However, that would prevent San Antonio from using it next summer. Considering they probably have no use for the mid-level exception at this point, the Spurs probably paid Baynes through that.